Review: TENET (2020)

Categories Film

Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker who has had no shortage of ambition. Everything from his approach to big science fiction concepts (Inception, Interstellar) to reimagining Batman lore (The Dark Knight Trilogy) has been met with much success, both critically and financially. After visiting the World War II genre with 2017’s Dunkirk, Nolan returns to sci-fi with his latest outing, Tenet.

Naturally, Tenet was one of the year’s most anticipated films, boasting not only Nolan’s latest original story, but also a stellar cast and enticing marketing. Then, COVID-19 happened. Eventually, the pandemic led to Tenet being delayed a few times. However, with Nolan pushing to hold on to its 2020 release date, Tenet became the first major new blockbuster to screen in newly reopened theaters.

With the pandemic still raging on, I am extremely hesitant to recommend that people go to the theater, even with guidelines. So, no matter how great a movie is, the risk is always there to catch this virus. With that being said, how was Tenet as a movie?

With Tenet, Nolan tackles the concept of time manipulation and implements it in an original espionage story. Its story is very complex, and it may take several viewings to fully understand it. However, it is as ambitious as any Nolan movie. I would go into more detail, but considering Nolan’s more secretive approach to filmmaking, I suggest that the less you know before seeing it, the better.

Not only does Nolan deliver another intricate original story, but he also ups the scale in his direction. His depiction of time manipulation within action scenes is just outstanding. Even the hand-to-hand fight scenes are among Nolan’s best; this was a common complaint in earlier movies like Batman Begins, but it’s very much improved here.

Tenet also boasts a very solid cast. John David Washington is on a roll, making his break in BlacKkKlansman and now headlining this movie. His performance as the protagonist is excellent, and he definitely carries the film. Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki are both memorable, while Kenneth Branagh depicts a very intimidating villain.

From there, Tenet depicts a lot of what you’d expect from a Nolan movie (stellar cinematography, practical effects, etc.), along with some new elements. For example, Ludwig Göransson provides the score, rather than Nolan’s frequent collaborator Hans Zimmer. Göransson delivers a very memorable score; in fact, it might go down as the year’s best. Speaking of music, the film also features “The Plan,” an original song by Travis Scott. It’s an unexpected collaboration, but one that really works.

At the end of the day, Tenet delivers exactly what you’d expect from a Christopher Nolan movie. Dazzling action, mind-bending storytelling, an outstanding score, and more. If you’re a fan of Nolan’s style, you’re probably going to love this. If you’re not, then you may not enjoy this. Again, I hesitate to recommend that anyone go to the theater anytime soon. But once it’s out on Blu-Ray and streaming, then I definitely recommend giving Tenet a watch, or several.

Paul Romano
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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.