TENET (2020) is another mind-bending thriller and home run for Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan is back with another mind-bending, time-bending and space-bending blockbuster that is guaranteed to blow you away. Going into this film with as little knowledge about the plot is the way to go – at its core it’s a time-bending espionage mission that has a secret agent on a path to save the world.

If you’re familiar with the original works of Christopher Nolan, you’d know to expect something that is going to test your mental ability to comprehend exactly what is going on. Having an insanely complex premise and plot is one thing – the important part is whether it’s entertaining, shocking and fun to unravel. Every minute of this film from beginning to end is an absolute joy! Nolan has crafted a journey that has you questioning everything and honing in on the smallest of details in order to piece things together. Over time, as more info is revealed, you begin to understand how this world works and what exactly is happening to these characters – and it’s infinitely rewarding to be able to explain what is going on in your head. Albeit it will take plenty of energy to work it all out while still paying attention to the film – but it makes it all the more satisfying.

As with all of Christopher Nolan’s projects, everything is meticulously planned out and orchestrated in a way that the story brings great value in repeat viewings. There is ample foreshadowing and inclusion of minute details that not only flesh out the depth of the story but really build the world in interesting, creative ways. The way the bending of time and space is presented in this narrative is the definition of creativity. The mind-bending content is not just used as a means of convoluting the story and confusing viewers – it’s utilised to enhance almost every aspect of the film from the visuals to the action. Everything across this entire narrative works together seamlessly – crafting an original story and a world with so much depth that you can get lost in it.

The pacing is near flawless, with the whole operation constantly in motion and barely a minute where you can go to the bathroom. There is a patch in the second act, in the earlier moments of getting to know Kenneth Branagh’s character, where it seems as though things are starting to drift off course. t’s not clear how any of this is going to play a part in the narrative – and so it feels like you almost don’t need to pay attention… initially. However, Nolan very quickly reminds the viewer that everything in here is crucial to the story – and what seems to be a slight detour is actually pivotal to some of the emotionally-poignant elements of the narrative.

I mentioned the action briefly, but that is one element that needs to be highlighted further, as it is absolutely phenomenal. Every single fast-paced action sequence is full of non-stop thrills, putting you on the edge of your seat in pure suspense and anticipation. This is where the time-bending elements really play an important part in crafting these original action sequences – enhanced by the laws of this world. To call each and every action sequence jaw-dropping would be a fitting word. The thrill and wonder of every single fight or chase scene enhances the film in every way. Especially when you get to the climax, which brings everything full circle and takes what you thought to be possible in this world and elevates it. It’s hard to be vague while accurately reviewing this film, but it’s necessary.

This is the first film I’ve seen in a theatre in a really long time. To say Tenet is enhanced by being seen in the theatre is an understatement – it’s almost essential. The visuals are truly mesmerising, wth Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography once again capturing your gaze across every single scene. It’s beautiful to look at, and accompanied by Ludwig Göransson’s electric score, it’s captivating to listen to. Now where the score is fantastic, I will say that the ambient sound is too loud at some points to hear what characters are saying. It’s a common criticism, and one I would agree with. It’s not that bad in the context of the entire film – as there are only a handful of lines that are hard to hear. But when some characters are speaking through oxygen masks and there’s a booming score blaring over the top – it makes subtitles a necessity.

As far as the performances, there’s no question Nolan has gotten the right people for the job. John David Washington is brilliant as the Protagonist, bringing the gritty action and a touch of charming charisma to the lead role. He’s a great, decently-well fleshed out character and Washington brings out all of his best qualities – making him a joy to follow as you see the majority of this world from his perspective. Alongside Washington is Robert Pattinson, who is without a doubt one of the best actors working right now. His back and forth with Washington makes for a number of very entertaining sequences and injects a slight burst of fun into what is otherwise a very serious journey. You also have Kenneth Branagh and Elizabeth Debicki who both play a massive role in the story and play their parts really well. If anything, I really grew on both of their characters with time thanks to the strengths of their performances. Basically, every performance in this film is on point.

In the end, Christopher Nolan smashes this one out of the park – hitting every note with precision and intent. The story is riveting and allows you to gradually piece things together without the need to pause for long stretches of exposition. It will have your mind working overtime to put all the pieces together and deliver with a rewarding finale. Aside from some very minor quarrels, there’s nothing I didn’t like about the way the film or the narrative is executed. The performances are great across the board, with electric chemistry that gets you invested in their respective characters. This is another home run for Nolan – a blockbuster that is not to be missed and should be seen on the big screen.

10/10

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