Director: Christopher Nolan
Tenet is a pretty good movie, but the plot is complicated. If you can keep up, it becomes a logical thriller with some great action. If you can’t, you spend the whole movie confused, bored, and lost.
What Happens in Tenet?
Tenet opens with the unnamed protagonist on an undercover mission for the CIA. At a Russian opera house, the protagonist and his team are tasked to retrieve an object. While the CIA agents work their way inside, a terrorist attack becomes the distraction to allow the CIA agents to achieve their goal. The protagonist and his team are able to secure this object, however, the Russians soon catch wind of their secret mission. The protagonist is caught, however, the rest of his team escapes. After relentless torture, the Russians are unable to extract any information, and seizing his chance, the protagonist attempts to swallow a suicide pill. The pill, however, is a dud, and the protagonist loses consciousness.
When the protagonist awakens, he is no longer a part of the CIA. He also discovers that the Russians took the object and that his whole team has been wiped out. Now, he is given a new mission that lies outside any governmental body. The protagonist is given the word “tenet” and a signal with his hands. With these two pieces of information, he meets with a scientist who studies materials from the future. These materials are invertible and lead to the object made from the materials to travel in the opposite direction of time. With this newfound knowledge. The protagonist starts his next mission to prevent the next major catastrophe.
Who Are The Characters in Tenet?
The protagonist, played by John David Washington, is a very mysterious character. While we can quite clearly see he is dedicated and loyal to his cause, we are left wondering where that cause came from. Very few specifics are known about the protagonist’s past, which adds to an element of complexity surrounding the character and the movie. It is without question that he is intelligent and a natural born leader, both qualities of which John David Washington portrays quite well.
Kat and Neil are the other two main protagonist. Unlike the protagonist, we know many more details about Kat’s past. She finds herself motivated by her will to live free with her son. Almost nothing is known about Neil, but he is quite clever and seems to be ahead of the protagonist at every turn, even if he is assumed to know nothing.
The main antagonist is Andrei Sator, played by Kenneth Branagh. A well known arms dealer, Andrei is a man who loves power and control. We see this quite early on based purely on the situation between Kat and Andrei. His moto in life is if he can’t have it, no one can. This power hungry, unforgiving man and his outlook on life pushes the main characters to the brink.
Tenet is a film that I enjoyed although it was not my favourite. Christopher Nolan once again succeeds in creating a very striking and expansive world that from the opening scene one can tell that there is something bigger a play. From the very start the movie draws you in and throws a lot at you and it does not slow down.
The film explores a different version of time and travelling through time than is usually seen in movies. Instead of being able to jump to a certain point in time the characters are either moving forward or moving backwards through time. Where it gets interesting is when a character who is moving forward interacts with a person who is moving backwards or inverted (as the film calls it) and how from the perspective of either person the other is moving physically backwards.
This is where the film shines when you see the fights that take place between someone who is inverted and someone who isn’t. All the fight scenes are well choreographed and very top notch. Overall, the action in the film is very sharp, stunning and almost seems larger than life.
Another positive is the attention to detail as everything that is said or seen in this film is important with many details noticed at the beginning of the movie becoming important later on or a later scene gives a better perspective of an event that happened earlier in the movie. Also, the detail in the inverted world is quite cool to see with even little things like the way birds fly being interesting to watch.
The acting in the film is quite good as well with John David Washington’s character who is just called the Protagonist, and Robert Pattinson’s Neil being compelling enough to follow and the actors do quite well with what they are given.
My problems with this film stem from the very beginning, as this film throws a lot at you. From the very beginning a lot is happening, and I felt like I was playing catch up for most of the movie. The film does give many explanations and though they did help, every time they re explained it or added new information I was left with more questions than answers.
I could see some members of the general audience having trouble understanding as even by the end of the movie when all the cards were on the table, I was still piecing things together. Every time I thought I finally understood what was going on, there would be something that threw me for a loop. This is not a movie one can turn their brains off, while watching as even the action scenes require some focus.
One of my other issues with the film is that the characters were not very important to the story. The film does not try to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the character other than the character of Kat (played by Elizabeth Debicki) who has a more personal fight other than just saving the world. As I said in my positives the actors were good and they were compelling enough to follow but you did not really root for them. Yes, as a viewer, you want the world saved, but these characters are not presented in a way that you might care if something unfortunate happened to them. The only other problem I have is sometimes the dialogue was hard to hear over the sound design or the score and therefore I missed some things during heavy dialogue scenes.
All in all I think this is an entertaining film and a great spectacle that has great action, a compelling plot, and a complexity that will keep some viewers on the edge of their seats. For some, however, the movie may be more than complex and just straight up confusing and they may find themselves catching up so they are not lost. Overall, I would recommend this film.