Tenet Review

The time-bending epic 'TENET' - out in cinemas since 26th of August - is a movie difficult to judge. It is a movie that has its fair share of flaws, but in terms of raw spectacle, it doesn't disappoint.

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Warner Bros. Pictures

The time-bending epic 'TENET' - out in cinemas since 26th of August - is a movie difficult to judge.It is a movie that has its fair share of flaws, but in terms of raw spectacle, it doesn't disappoint. 

Director Christopher Nolan's mesmerising visualisation of time manipulation gives rise to some of the most fantastic film set pieces I've seen in ages. But it is a concept that sadly took an entire movie to explain and two viewings to understand.

One of the major complaints is the lack of interesting characters. Nolan spends almost every word of dialogue expanding the world of TENET and explaining the bizarre mechanics of 'time inversion.' Though this helps the audience understand what is happening, it leaves no time for proper character development.

 John David Washington's character is only referred to as 'the protagonist'. The lack of expansion leaves him, and the rest of the ensemble feeling bland and lacking flavour. You know you want the good guys to win, but without any character building, you don't feel invested in what happens to them. So, when thrown into mortal danger, you don't care too much about the characters.

The only exception to the lack of personalities is the movie's villain, Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). His cold and malicious demeanour paired with a lack of empathy make him terrifying on screen. The single-minded drive to get what he wants gives a genuine sense of fear as he will do anything to succeed. 

The score that accompanies Sator adds to his chilling presence. A bass-heavy droning only accompanied by strained breathing and a deafening heartbeat that gives me chills just thinking about it. The music as a whole is a massive change from Nolan's other work. Rather than the instrumental beauty of Hans Zimmer, Nolan uses the tech-heavy beats of Ludwig Göransson. 

This shift in tone is evident from the opening scene where an orchestra is in the middle of tuning their instruments. Before they get a chance to play, they are interrupted by the pounding bass of Göransson's score. Despite its quality, the sheer volume drowned out the dialogue on several occasions, which is another major criticism of the movie

In an early scene of the film, 'the protagonist' meets a researcher who begins to explain the 'time inversion' in the film. The main point she makes is "don't try to understand it". That is the main take away from TENET. The characters are bland, and the plot is needlessly overcomplicated. Still, if you don't try and understand the contrived plot lines and enjoy the spectacle of it all, you'll enjoy yourself. 

It is pretentious, even by Nolan's standards, yet I still can't help but love it. I can't explain why, but I know that I would not hesitate to sit through the two-and-a-half-hour runtime to experience it again. This film is by no means Nolan's masterwork, but as the culmination of his obsession with time, it is impossible not to be absorbed into the madness he has created.  


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