Film review: “Tenet”

Time-bending film makes more than two hours fly by


Lloyd Sage, Film Critic

Thirty seconds. That’s how long you have to relax before the thrilling, mind-bending, time-warping, non-stop adventure of the Protagonist quite literally explodes onto the screen.

Armed with one word, “Tenet,” John David Washington’s Protagonist is thrust into a world-saving mission regarding a future technology that reverses an object’s direction in time.

With help from British intelligence agent Neil (Robert Pattinson), the Protagonist’s initial mission seems to be to infiltrate the ranks of a Russian arms dealer to discover the whereabouts of the future technology; however, the mission comes crashing down when the estranged wife of the Russian, whom the Protagonist used in order to set up a meeting with the Russian, is put in harm’s way.

In order to save her life, the Protagonist must reverse his own direction in time, where he learns that Neil knows more than he originally let on, and that the fate of the world is in his hands. Culminating in an epic battle to save the world that cuts back and forth between soldiers moving forward and soldiers moving backward through time, “Tenet” is a fast-paced thriller that does not let up from start to finish.

Though highly enjoyable, the movie is not without its flaws, mainly regarding the sound mixing. The Christopher Nolan staple of loud music does its job, providing a fast pace and sense of thrill and anxiety throughout the film. Yet in certain instances it drowns out the dialogue, every bit of which is needed to explain the rules of the future technology and understand the reasoning behind the character’s actions.

I highly recommend closed captioning in order to understand the movie as best you can. On the other hand, like many other Christopher Nolan works, this movie will require several rewatches in order to fully understand it. Every scene is mentally captivating and if you stop paying attention for a second, you are bound to miss something. The sheer amount of exposition can often distract from impressive visuals.

Despite Nolan’s obvious desire for the audience to understand the plot, not allowing the audience to observe what’s happening on screen but instead having them keep a continued focus on the dialogue ends up being the film’s second biggest flaw.

However, the ending befits a movie of Nolan’s caliber with a twist that should have occurred to you sooner than it did, as well as bringing everything previously watched into a clearer perspective.

Stunning visuals, masterful fight choreography, outstanding special effects and layered performances by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson all contribute to the significant value of entertainment of the film.

People focused on understanding every single aspect of the film will struggle to enjoy themselves, but by heeding the advice given early in the movie to “Don’t try and understand it, just feel it” and completely immersing themselves in Nolan’s world, audiences will observe how the movie bends time in classic Nolan fashion, and that the movie itself bends time by making two and a half hours completely fly by.