Tenet Review

A SAAB 9-5 gets a starring role in the first tent-pole film released since COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Based on that alone, 5 stars.

Joking aside, it’s impossible to talk about Nolan’s latest mind-bending story and not discuss the cinema experience. My first cinema visit since February (another Pattinson starring film) filled me with trepidation. Would I feel safe and comfortable?

There was nothing to worry about based on this experience. From the welcoming staff to the clear directions, in many ways it was preferable. Distancing wasn’t hard to manage as I was only one of seven people in the screening. No obnoxious talkers or loud munchers to ruin my experience! Kudos to Port Solent Odeon.

Back in 2017, my newly acquired Dad duties were a priority over seeing Dunkirk. I didn’t miss it at the time, but the home viewing showed me how much Nolan makes films for the cinema. So if there was a film that was going to get me back into a cinema seat, it’s Tenet.

From the clothes to the skill sets, this heightened world is only a step away from being a Bond film. As our protagonists gallivant around the world Nolan’s affection for the spy genre is evident. And he can film a fight scene now too!

My biggest fear heading in was that I just wouldn’t understand what was going on. Fortunately on a technical level I understood what was going on, and I always felt engaged. There were a few too many mumbled lines, but there was another niggle, and it only grew as things progressed.

Washington’s protagonist is prompted to not think about things too much and to feel instead. Tenet’s problem is that it doesn’t listen to its own advice, as it constantly strives to explain itself and what is going on. It’s not unusual for his films to be on the cold side, but here it undermines the stakes that we hear about often but never feel.

I appreciate individual components of the film, from the main trio, to seeing the SAAB, to a stunning scene involving a very large and very real airplane. The high concept bombast we’ve come to expect from Nolan is present and correct, and comfort permitting I recommend you try it. Unfortunately Tenet’s heart can’t match it’s brains, failing to elevate those great components into a more convincing whole.

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