Tenet (2020)

Tenet movie poster.jpg
Director: Christopher Nolan
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Rating: 12a
Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Himesh Patel, Clémence Poésy, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Martin Donovan, Fiona Dourif, Yuri Kolokolnikov

An outspoken advocate for the cinema experience, Christopher Nolan has long kept his cards close to his chest. As expected, so much of his 11th feature film is closely guarded, so I can only give a vague plot summary. What I can say is that the story follows a man we only know as The Protagonist (John David Washington). He aims to prevent something worse than a nuclear holocaust, fighting for the world's survival armed with one word, Tenet.

Once again, Nolan operates entirely on his own wavelength, intent on delivering intelligent blockbusters to audiences everywhere. He expects audiences to connect the dots and work out the puzzling narrative themselves, as grand ideas are brought alive with great spectacle. As the genres are blended so well, the sights are used to great effect, especially in the action beats. It helps that the practical realisation works so marvellously. What threatens to undo it all is the sound mixing, as explanatory dialogue is drowned out by the score. For a film which depends on the dialogue, this severely hinders things. If Nolan intends to preserve the big screen experience, it would help to ensure audiences can hear what's being said.

What helps is the exceptional cast, who are a great assembly of talents. John David Washington is a charismatic presence, with his performance serving the character more than the screenplay. An added bit of emotional resonance would've been welcome, to make him more than a suave entry point for viewers. Something akin to Cobb's underlying regret from Inception, or Coop's paternal relationship with Murph in Interstellar, to add personal shades to his character.

Acting as support is the endlessly talented Robert Pattinson, once more showing off his versatility. They go up against Kenneth Branagh, who brings the menace alongside a decent Russian accent. Most exceptional is Elizabeth Debicki, putting the best performance into the film. While Nolan has moved on from writing dead wives to motivate the men, it still feels like there's room to grow. In spite of this, we're left with big ideas which help a 150 minute runtime to fly on by.

Tenet is available to watch in cinemas everywhere. Please note that this review is not an endorsement to venture to the cinemas, and the best course of action may be to wait for the home media release.