Nolan proves once again that he is a spectacular storyteller willing to commit to the complexity of his writing and somehow present it in a coherent manner that doesn’t sacrifice the unique qualities he brings to his time- and reality-bending ideas. He also, once again, has a great eye for casting bringing in some very capable and charming performers including John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kenneth Branagh, and his signature partner Michael Caine who are all fully on board with the craziness being presented on screen. The director’s trademark dependence on practical effects also gives the film a great sense of realism that a lot of sci-fi features tend to lack. It’s been said that this movie contains less than 300 artificial visual effects with everything else being done practically, making it the lowest number of computer effects Nolan has ever used. It’s also been said that the director filmed each scene both forwards and backwards to fit the inversion idea and yet everything looks so natural and smooth. It would have been easy to film it once and reverse it but when you see how complex every scene is and how complicated the choreography tends to be you learn to appreciate Nolan’s approach a lot more and all the subtle little things that required that kind of attention to pull off.
If I had to say anything bad about “Tenet” it’s probably the one thing many people have pointed out and that’s a strangely monotone presentation. There’s never really a lot of life in the story in terms of its presentation as it does at times feel like everything is just kind of happening and the tone feels like everyone is taking the whole thing a little too seriously. The dialogue and explanations of ideas can be a bit hard to follow and while I personally found it easy to understand in my first run-through I know I missed a few things that will make it worth repeat viewing. But for those who prefer a more spoon-fed film experience without so much complexity and thought required to understand it “Tenet” probably won’t serve you well. Although if you know Nolan’s movies you should already expecting that kind of experience. It’s going to challenge you and frustrate you at times. If that’s not your cup of tea this film will definitely disappoint. I love these kinds of movies personally and “Tenet” proved to be genuinely original and kept me completely invested from start to finish knowing that every little detail mattered. So, for me it was one of the best big screen experiences I could have asked for but for others it’s going to be too complicated to appreciate and that’s fine.
“Tenet” isn’t for everyone, but it wasn’t MADE for everyone either. Its time-bending ideas are well thought out and inspired, the action is epic, the execution is impressive, the story is complicated but coherent and the performers are fully on board to bring it all to life. It’s the full package, well save for its admittedly dry delivery. “Tenet” is so complicated and filled with so many twists I had to be extremely vague with this review to avoid spoilers, but trust me when I say if you’re patient enough to see it through and familiar with how Nolan’s movie’s work this film will keep you on the edge of your seat exploring the very limits of our perception of time and what a movie can be. Impressive, original, and epic in scale in all the best ways “Tenet” is another spectacular entry in Christopher Nolan’s filmography proving once again that he is truly one of the best at the craft today.