UK Release: 26/08/2020
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh
It’s about time – Tenet is finally in cinemas and it’s… well, it’s about time.
Christopher Nolan’s latest sci-fi action flick is a bit of a mind bender. And it’s to be expected – the whole premise of Tenet is a complicated one.
The Protagonist (played by John David Washington) has been dragged into a global conspiracy that’s all about time travel.
But it’s not your usual time machine.
There are no DeLoreans or Victorian contraptions.
Instead, Nolan introduces the idea of reverse entropy – a scientific process that sets objects and people on a reverse path. That’s right, anything that goes through the machine travels backwards, instead of forwards through time.
It’s a neat concept that sets up some incredible set pieces reminiscent of Nolan’s earlier film, Inception.
And it allows for some truly thought-provoking plot elements, too.
The crux of Tenet is that there’s a time war – but don’t expect it to play out like Doctor Who.
An apocalyptic event that could tear apart time and space is going to happen in the future, and a secretive organisation known as ‘Tenet’ is trying to stop it.
But there’s a problem.
Russian oligarch Sator (played by Kenneth Branagh) is trying to make the end of the world happen. And he’s got his hands on one of those elusive reverse entropy machines.
The result is that you never quite know what’s happening – some parts of the film movie in one direction while others are reversed… and that means that, inevitably, the two overlap.
It’s a phenomenal way to elevate what could be a standard conspiracy action flick into a filmmaking tour de force. The toing and froing of the different elements vying against each other makes for some spectacular set pieces.
But it also makes the plot twit around itself in beautiful and unexpected ways.
Unfortunately, it’s not without its problems. While the visuals are stunning, the audio is absolute garbage. Audio mixing isn’t exactly one of Christopher Nolan’s strong suits, and in a film that requires a lot of detailed explanations, it can leave audiences without a clue.
On top of this, some scenes suffer from a bit too much exposition.
It’s to be expected of course – the story needs to make advanced quantum mechanics theories accessible to a movie-going audience.
But it can sometimes slow the pace a little too much.
That said, it’s an enjoyable yarn with some great performances from key players. Elizabeth Debicki marks a great turn as Kat – Sator’s wife and prize possession. Robert Pattinson is just as impressive as Neil – a Tenet agent who the Protagonist grows closer and closer with over the course of their time-bending adventure.
It’s a technically brilliant film too. The visual effects and cinematography are flawless throughout, whether it’s action scenes or character driven moments.
I can’t help thinking that it’s going to struggle at the box office, though.
It’s not exactly an accessible movie, even by Christopher Nolan’s standards, and it’s made worse by a terrible audio mix.
But if you persevere, Tenet is one of the most original movies of the year, with the kind of flair only Christopher Nolan can bring.
Tenet opens in cinemas on 26 August 2020.