Great visuals, great sound and a great story all lead “Tenet”to being quite the film, but is it good enough to get audiences back in the theaters after a nearly six-month hiatus from films on the big screen? While the film almost certainly would have made its money back with an on-demand release, Christopher Nolan has taken a big gamble choosing to delay and wait for the theaters to reopen. After seeing the film for myself, I can say that this film was worth the wait to see it on the big screen. It is a film that screams Christopher Nolan’s distinct style, and it’s a movie that demands to be seen with the quality of picture and sound that only a movie theater can offer.
First, to get something out of the way and to put people’s apprehensions about going to the movie theaters to rest, AMC Theaters really seems to be taking the health of its patrons seriously. Masks are required when entering the theater and during the movie unless eating or drinking. Cashless concessions and 40 percent max theater capacity are also in place. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations are all around, and staff have their temperatures taken daily, according to AMC.
From the very first few minutes of the film, we are hit with an intense scene of a hostage situation. We are subsequently introduced to the main protagonist (John David Washington “BlackkKlansmen,” “Ballers”) who is literally referred to as “The Protagonist.” Captured on his mission, he is tortured by his captors, and ultimately takes a suicide pill, as instructed, only to wake up. His willingness to give his life for the mission leads to him being promoted and sent on an assignment to essentially save all human life on earth. He is shown part of what he is up against, a slab of rock with bullet holes in it and an empty gun. He picks up the gun, and when trying to fire the gun, the bullets in the slab of rock move inversely and travel from the site of impact back to the gun, refilling the clip. It is explained that the bullets entropy has been inverted and that this gun and its bullets were transported from the future, and this could possibly be the signs of a war being launched on the present from the future and that he must stop it. Eventually, The Protagonist teams up with a man named Neil (Robert Pattinson “Twilight,” “Good Time”) in India to find an arms dealer who tells them they must find the Russian oligarch and arms dealer Andrei (Kenneth Branagh “Dunkirk, Henry V”). They involve Andrei’s wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki “The Crown”, “Great Gatsby”), who longs for a way out of the relationship, but fears she will never see her son again.
The story at times can be the weakest part of an otherwise great film, and this isn’t to say the story isn’t compelling, just that it can be at times confusing to follow, even as we have much of what’s happening constantly explained to us. Nevertheless, it managed to maintain my interest and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole movie. The perfectly timed and often quite brutal action scenes prevent any chance of things getting stale or too slow. The scientific nature of the movie will have you thinking about the world differently. Would the objects actually move backwards? What would actually happen if we came into contact with ourselves? It lets your imagination run wild.
The visuals in the film are grand and over the top like much of Nolan’s previous work. There are immense set piece action moments, rich with easily missed little details. There are a few of these “blink and you’ll miss” moments throughout the film. Also, the action is incredibly well choreographed. Often now, modern action films will use constant cuts during intense fight scenes. The film strays away from that, and while there are the occasional quick cuts, it’s nowhere near as overdone like most films. The whole inverse of time aspect of the film also adds a lot of depth to the action and its immense visual beauty. Bullets flying backwards, fist fights between an inverted man and a guy following the normal constraints of time and visually beautiful inverse explosions. Apart from the inverse action moments, it also adds a great visual beauty to a lot of the slower moments of the film. Grand shots of ships moving backwards, massive battles where one group of soldiers are moving in reverse while the other moves forward in time.
Finally, sound is always something that is very important in Christopher Nolan films, and “Tenet” is no different. The film took great advantage of dissonance] build tension and anxiety in its listener before opening into a grand sweeping chord in its intense action scenes. The score is exceptional; it complements the premise and every single scene perfectly. Also, the lack of sound at certain times is great, and it helps build that aforementioned tension very well. The soundtrack, to my surprise, also contains a fantastic new Travis Scott song recorded specifically for the film. The one caveat I will mention, and this could be the theatre I watched the film in, is that it can be almost too loud at times, which for some could be overwhelming.
Overall, while the story can at times get muddled in its own science and may have a score a bit on the loud side, it nevertheless will leave you wanting to watch it a thousand more times just to find every single little detail Nolan manages to fit into the film. I can confidently recommend this to not just Nolan fans, but to the general public. The film will not disappoint.