|Genres:||Action, Thriller, Science Fiction|
|Crew:||Director: Christopher Nolan | Producer: Christopher Nolan | Writer: Christopher Nolan | Producer: Emma Thomas | Casting: John Papsidera | Costume Design: Jeffrey Kurland | Production Design: Nathan Crowley | Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas | Director of Photography: Hoyte van Hoytema | Original Music Composer: Ludwig Göransson|
Armed with only one word - Tenet - and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
I fully understand that Christopher Nolan is trying to play with time, as that what's the movie's about - and yes, he is known for confusing movies - but here, Nolan has made something uninteresting. The idea of things going backwards is cool, but the rules are unclear. We never know what the basic goal is - I could understand secrets, but the film has to be interesting and 'Tenet' simply isn't. Nothing here makes me want to work things out; it's forgettable. Sure, you can say this has to be seen on the big screen, but the long runtime makes it unappealing to most mainstream audiences. Unfortunately, 'Tenet' is not here to save the 2020 box office. I work at a cinema, and to say it underperformed well would be correct. We are going to see more 'Tenet' hot-take YouTube videos than thinkpiece/what you missed ones. Christopher Nolan has made his most forgettable film to date - it's not a bad movie and I'm sure his diehard fans will adore this one, but for everyone else, there isn't much here. 'Tenet' won't be remembered as another “groundbreaking visual spectacle“ from Nolan or for “saving cinema“. It will be remembered for its weird release schedule and having been shown during a global pandemic, and that's unfortunate. Like the rest of the year, 'Tenet' is a write-off.
Read Chris' full article... https://www.maketheswitch.com.au/article/review-tenet-time-runs-up-like-my-enjoyment-of-nolans-latest-film
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Christopher Nolan has delivered some of my favorite movies of the century. All the way from Memento to the most recent Dunkirk, I've yet to dislike one of his films, so expectations are always high with him. The current global pandemic closed movie theaters worldwide, but fortunately, some countries already opened them, including my own. My IMAX screening of Tenet was my first trip to a theater since February! As a firm believer and strong advocate of the so-called "cinematic experience", I would always remember fondly the day I returned to a place I hold very close to my heart independently of my opinion about the film. Nevertheless, it became an even more special day once I left that enormous screen behind with a happy face.
Nowadays, people complain about everything, especially on social media. So, I'm not surprised that the "savior of cinema" marketing tagline triggered so many souls. If Nolan didn't have enough haters, it surely got a few more after this campaign. Me? I look at it like any other marketing scheme: it's intended to hype its own movie, so I don't really understand why this specific publicity caused so much controversy. Obviously, "savior of cinema" doesn't mean Nolan is going to save theaters from dying. It's just a tagline trying to hype the first major blockbuster in several months! It's a marketing strategy to try and convince people to give Tenet a go. If there's a film meant to be seen at the biggest screen possible, this is the one.
I'll get the outstanding technical achievements out of the way. Inception and Interstellar boast impressive visuals that are hard to compete with, but Tenet is up to the challenge. With uniquely complex, stunning, grand set pieces, Nolan delivers riveting action based on a mind-blowing temporal concept that will make every single viewer scratch their heads. I lost count to the number of times I tried to open my eyes more so I could see (and understand) everything that was going on. Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography is handheld for a lot of action sequences, and he has such control over his craft that he was able to capture some of the most jaw-dropping action moments of the last few years through gorgeous angles and a firm grip.
Nolan said that Tenet would be "the hardest movie to cut" for any editor. Jennifer Lame's editing plays a vital role in the time inversion sequences. It's relatively easy to imagine how brutal of a task she must have had. She's incredibly consistent throughout the runtime with perfectly timed cuts that elevate even the simplest of scenes. I wish I could be more specific, but in order to avoid spoilers, I'll just write this: she has a bunch of nominations coming her way, including an Academy Award. Ludwig Göransson's score is tremendously powerful, and it definitely adds to the magnificent action set pieces, especially in the third act.
Finally, Nathan Crowley (production designer) creates such a realistic look that it almost made me believe this could actually occur in the real world. CGI has come a long way, and it's indisputably a tool that can completely transform films into something fascinating when used correctly. However, practical effects will always offer a feeling impossible to replicate through computerized images. It's probably the aspect I appreciate the most about this movie: its massive application of practical effects and real stunts. It surrounds the physics-defying premise within a bubble of realism, and that's only achieved with talented people in the right technical departments.
Story-wise... this is where it gets tricky. I have to be honest about my experience: I found it surprisingly okay to follow and not that challenging to understand. This doesn't mean that it isn't a remarkably complex, layered narrative with ideas that will be incredibly hard for some people to comprehend. I'm not trying to patronize anyone, far from that, but some viewers will inevitably leave the theater without completely understanding what they just saw, simply because it's a two-hour-and-a-half movie packed with heavy exposition about a fictional quantum physics concept. For example, in the same way that some people genuinely can't have a 3D perspective, other people will also have visual difficulties in distinguishing the inverted sequences.
The need to be vague about plot details doesn't let me explain a lot, but the unique concept Nolan develops in Tenet is undoubtedly an exceptionally intriguing idea. As crazy as it might sound, I found the visuals more confusing than the actual scientific explanations that they go with. Unfortunately, that's one of my main issues with the film. Throughout the entire runtime, there's an excessive load of exposition about the time shenanigans. It's a massive amount of information for anyone to be able to remember every single detail. Even worse, some dialogue sequences feel so incredibly forced that it's almost like the movie stops for quick breaks where the characters explain something directly to the audience.
This last point leads me to another problem. John David Washington gets better and better as time goes by, but he feels like a mediator between the film and the audience for the first half of the movie. His dialogue revolves around asking questions about what's happening and how the time inversion works, which is obviously understandable given the character's circumstances, but the execution of these conversations lacks that spontaneous vibe. It really feels like someone yelled "Action!", the actors did their lines, and that same someone yelled "Cut!". Washington isn't exactly a worldwide, well-known actor (Ballers, BlackKklansman), and this is his first big blockbuster appearance, so his inexperience didn't help him through these moments.
However, he ends up being a fine protagonist (no pun intended). Robert Pattinson is charming and quite funny, actually. I couldn't avoid the "humorless" review headlines, and being totally honest, it's surprisingly a lot funnier than I thought it would (not) be. His character has a vital role in the whole story, and it's through him that most of the knowledge about the intricate concept at hand is developed. Elizabeth Debicki is probably the spotlight stealer, though. With a remarkable performance, she represents the emotional arc of the film, and she delivers one of her best interpretations ever. I was afraid that her storyline would turn into a forced romance, but fortunately, it only helped build Washington's character traits.
On the other hand, Kenneth Branagh plays a cliche Russian bad guy with generic motivations who feels way too formulaic for such a ground-breaking movie. But ultimately, that's what Nolan presents. His astonishingly talented methods as a director and his obsession with detail as a writer make Tenet a certainly flawed yet phenomenal film with a concept that might be the hardest he's ever had to pull off. As long as people can remove themselves from the real world and enter a whole new one with entirely different mechanisms and rules, it will be the so-called "blockbuster of the summer" that everyone deserves this year.
All in all, Tenet undoubtedly boasts an incredibly complex narrative with a unique temporal concept impressively demonstrated through spectacular, loud, jaw-dropping, practical action set pieces. Christopher Nolan is a masterful director and a fascinating writer, but he has to thank its technical crew for creating such a visually stunning blockbuster. From Hoyte van Hoytema's riveting camera work to Jennifer Lame's seamless editing, passing through Ludwig Göransson's powerful score and Nathan Crowley's beautiful production design, Tenet is one of the most technically mind-blowing movies of the last few years. With the help of a remarkable cast (especially Debicki and Pattinson), the definitely intriguing story makes the epic runtime feel a bit shorter, despite some scenes being unnecessary. The heavy and forced exposition throughout the entire film transforms an otherwise entertaining flick into a fictional physics class that will confuse thousands of viewers. It also doesn't help to have a generic MacGuffin and a formulaic villain at the core of such an unconventional movie. In the end, Nolan isn't the "savior of cinema" (no one will be), but he certainly delivers the blockbuster everyone's been waiting for since the beginning of the year. As long as people are able to accept and enter his new world, Tenet will be received as one of the best films of 2020.
There is a moment midway through this film where you can suddenly feel everything clicking into place. Up until this point, the film has been entertaining, with some great set pieces and a scope that is trademark Nolan, but the central hook of the film - “time inversion” - has felt almost superfluous to the plot, albeit a clever visual conceit that gives the film a different vibe to your average spy thriller. But then comes the “moment” - a simple act of crossing a threshold - where suddenly you realise how the visual conceit is going to figure into the rest of the film and also how most of the first hour has been pure setup for what is to follow. It’s the kind of twist that isn’t really a twist at all as it is a visual explanation that the film has really been waiting for. Nolan has taken quite a gamble in delaying this “moment” for so long and there is always the feeling the film is hiding elements of the plot in the first half. This means the explanation may have come too late for some to invest in the film fully, but if you are still with it, there is a sudden feeling of exhilaration of knowing to an extent some of what is about to follow and the film lets loose with some fantastic set pieces that are hugely satisfying if you have been paying attention.
Performances are great, with Branagh in full scenery chewing mode and the score is suitably Zimmeresque and loud. It doesn’t quite hit the highs of its closest cousin - Inception - but it’s scope is similarly impressive and it’s going to lead to plenty of theories and explanations in order to follow each major character’s journey through the film. Great stuff in the end, but it was touch and go there for a while.
I was recently asked if this was better or worse than Inception. Personally, I don’t think you can compare any of his films outside the fact that he made them. Like those made by Tarantino, each film is its own living masterpiece ...
If you are a fan of Nolan, this is a must see!