October 16, 2021

Review: Tenet

150 minutes. Sci-fi, Action, Thriller. 

Over the course of the past couple of months, the general cinema-going population has faced a major spanner in the works. Since many rules and restrictions have been put in place for obvious reasons, a crowded room stuffed with excited popcorn-eating film enthusiasts never quite seemed like the most sensible idea. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, after what seemed like decades, these venues were finally given the chance to open with a bang. And open with a bang they did, utilising perhaps the most furiously awaited blockbuster since The Return of the King. Hundreds of thousands flocked to see the mind-bending, time-bending Tenet, braving the bravest of new worlds for three hours of escapism, and it hit cinemas like a backward-traveling bullet from an era that hadn’t yet been. 

So what’s it all about? Go see it, any viewer will tell you. They may or may not have liked it, but many will be inclined to tell you this because, really, they haven’t a clue. Whether it’s Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, or Michael Caine dealing out one of those fast-paced, perplexing speeches many will find reminiscent of InceptionTenet will catch up with even the most attentive within a short period of time, and it certainly won’t stop to allow you to catch up. 

None of this is to say you can’t enjoy it once the science has raced past you; from the commencing opera house scene to an ending about which I won’t give away a single detail for fear of spoiling part of its carefully-woven plot, Tenet continues to thrill in just the same way it continues to confuse. 

Tenet tells the story of a Bond-like secret agent hired to spy on Kenneth Branagh’s Goldfinger-like villain, and find out more about the secret WMDs he has access to. However, these weapons are being supplied to him by none other than: the future. Now Christopher Nolan has over the years gained a huge reputation for his passion for time. From his earlier psychological thriller/ crime work (Following, Memento) to his later, post TDK trilogy sci-fi work (Inception, Interstellar) Nolan has incorporated a use of the concept of time into nearly every one of his films. With the rise of streaming platforms allowing creative minds more freedom, many writers and directors now are able to make the movie they purely want to make; as we can see here, Nolan is no exception. Anyone who has read up on his influences and taste in cinema will undoubtedly notice a vast range of connections and references.  

Tenet has been a lot of things. “The film that saved cinema.” “The biggest hit of 2020.” Or even “the secret sequel to Inception.” But most of all, down to Christopher Nolan’s great overestimation of the scientific capacity of his audience, Tenet has proved that the public can truly enjoy a time-warping, mind-warping piece of sci-fi that defies all expectations. Perhaps this will be a reference point for the future blockbusters of the world? Or peharps we’ll all just have to make sure we get our tickets to see whatever comes next in Nolan’s career, in order for us to be taken away into a world where time just doesn’t work the same way. 

I am giving Tenet 4 out of 5 stars – a must see!

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