Tenet (2020) review: Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster is a technical, cerebral and groundbreaking marvel

Tenet is one of the most important film releases ever and it could not be any better suited for the task

Writer/Director Christopher Nolan’s reputation is such that any new film from him is immediately an event but with Tenet, it’s even more than that. As this year’s summer season has been all but annihilated, Tenet is first major motion picture release cinematically in months. Its success or failure will mean so much to the future of the medium, and you couldn’t have found anything more immersive to face this insurmountable responsibility! As we all adjust to life as it is instead of as it was, time is more relevant than ever and in Tenet, time is everything.

John David Washington is a CIA Agent taking part in an undercover Russian operation, however things go wrong and with deadly consequence, but what seems like the end proves only to be the beginning. As this event leads him into a world ahead our own, when a secret organisation introduces him to ‘time-based technology’ that is beyond modern comprehension. This technology in the wrong hands could be our undoing but could also be the key to averting disaster.

Washington is compelling as he leads a simply wonderful cast, with his brave, bold, loyal and duty bound protagonist who doesn’t lose who he is, even in the face of the highest possible stakes. Sublime support is also offered by Robert Pattinson as Neil, whose screen-grabbing presence and charisma continually grows, while Kenneth Branagh is downright disturbing as narcissistic Russian oligarch Andrei Sator.

A fabulous array of diverse talents like Dimple Kapadia, Himesh Patel, Michael Caine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, ensure this is a feat of constantly phenomenal performances. Though, it is actually Elizabeth Debicki as Andrei’s tortured wife Kat, who provides the interior to this impressive machine. Nolan’s work is often called by some of his critics cold and emotionless but Kat’s story gives this whole venture a humanity that rises between the plot’s inverted hands of time.

Tenet is a complex, cunningly created cinematic conundrum you almost obsessively try to crack. But I would advise that you have patience and opt to ‘feel it’ instead of overthink it. Nolan’s screenplay invites contemplation but is most rewarding to audience forbearance, as details that initially perplex, are later connected, the story continually  inter-twines and you sometimes sit back smiling with sheer admiration and awe. There are some films out there that almost feel as though, to fully decipher them, they ought to be analysed backwards and forwards but with Tenet, it’s literally the case.

Nolan has been very interested with the concept of time over his career but in this entropy smashing rubik’s cube, he takes it even further, as he de-constructs time itself. Showing not only how precious it is but how those with a respect for its power can change the world, while those who seek to empower time can end it. As such, it is a film that will perhaps take many revisits to fully comprehend and appreciate every nuance. But my word is it worth it.

Tenet is a mesmerising experience, one that can only be fully ‘felt’ on the big screen in every sense of that term. As the direction is sophisticated in its style and expert in its goals, you are encouraged – even verbally – to feel this incredible experience. The bone-breaking action (some of which is really rather violent). The immaculately constructed (and deconstructed) set pieces. The flooring and absorbing Hoyte von Hoytema cinematography. The rumbling, epic and slicingly powerful score from Ludwig Göransson. The time-displacing plot. The acting. Everything…you feel it all, you live it all, you experience every last bit and it’s astounding.

Tenet is the ultimate cinema experience, a staggering, painstaking and aspiring piece of filmmaking, a dwarfing spectacle taken to whole new scales. I loved it, admired it and appreciated just how much we need it at this moment in time. “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it”.

A palindromic triumph! !hpmuirt cimordnilap A

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