Tenet is the first blockbuster released in the post-COVID era and sees the highly anticipated return from one of the most recognisable auteurs, Christopher Nolan. The long-awaited film tells the story of Protagonist (John David Washington) who needs to save the world from a new inversion technology which could cause World War III.
The rich and unusual visuals of the film immediately capture the eye and whilst at first glance the cinematography ostensibly portrays the film as a spy action film, the visuals become more magical when the plot progresses by taking a closer look at the concept of time inversion.
This said, the time travel concept is not mind-blowing in appearance. Like it or not, it is impossible not to compare Tenet to Inception. One of the main issues with Tenet is that despite the rich and unusual effects and cinematography; it does not particularly stand-out when compared to Nolan’s Inception, made 10 years prior.
The second big aspect to discuss is the plot. Nolan’s signature complicated plots require complete sober mindedness, otherwise there is hardly any chance to be able to follow the story. Nolan worked on the plot for 6-7 years and basically created a palindrome of a movie where the end is the start. However at some point, the inversion tricks get so messy that it’s hard to find where the main plot line is. Besides, the film hardly tries to explain how such technology appeared in the first place or how people mastered it.
The problem with the plot of Tenet is overcomplication where it’s not really needed. In comparison to Inception, from the narrative perspective, the main topic looked exciting, whereas in Tenet there is nothing new – the standard spy film narrative, needless to say, is that the main antagonist (Kenneth Branagh) is a crazy Russian trying to destroy the world.
Another problem with the plot is its soullessness – it is kind of hard to empathize with the characters and Nolan just throws in multiple random people without properly detailing them. Motives of some characters are also hardly justifiable, so it is difficult to get to the root of their problems. The lack of explanation and uniqueness does not let people fully empathize with the characters, unlike in Inception. If there were different actors present, nothing would really change – not a good sign for the long-awaited blockbuster.
Tenet is a good film, a perfect film to watch on the big screen. However, it does not live up to its high expectations; this understanding does not come from the soul, it comes from the mind. Nice visuals, good sound design and highly accredited actors all under Nolan’s leadership guarantees the film’s status to some extent; it was never going to be a film of poor quality. However, these factors combined were still not enough to hide the fact that Tenet is not a unique phenomenon that anyone would be desperate to rewatch in 10 years time.
Image Credit: The MovieDB