Tenet (2020) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
MANY WERE hesitant about the release of Tenet due to its outlandish premise and constant delays, but Christopher Nolan has surpassed all expectations by creating a spy film for the future generation.
Following his supposed death, the protagonist (Washington) is enlisted into a secret agency which uncovers inverted technology from the future. Alongside his partner, Neil (Pattinson), the protagonist is sent on a manhunt for Andrei Sator (Branagh) as the two attempt to prevent World War Three.
If the story sounds extremely predictable and one-dimensional, trust me – you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Within the opening 10 minutes the audience and protagonist are introduced to inverted bullets, which when fired, travel back into the magazine. This is demonstrated further by reversing an object into a person’s hand by making a grasping motion, creating a sense of inversion described as tenet.
In what was a daunting concept to grasp, Tenet managed to keep me enthralled through its unique premise and ingenuity on how to represent the concept without it overstaying its welcome.
The opening act of the film borrows elements from espionage classics such as James Bond before seamlessly transitioning into an exciting action flick.
Engaging fight sequences utilising the time-reversal concept in predeveloping ways resulted in the broken-down gears within my head turn rapidly as my expectations during a fight were subverted in a positive way.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet’s visuals, structure and premise have been compared to his 2010 and 2014 films, Inception and Interstellar, respectively.
However, can this be considered a bad thing?
While borrowed elements such as a mother-child relationship and time travel are apparent, they’re presented in different and interesting ways, both of which are thanks to the wonderful performances given.
Washington feels like he is along for the ride in his role as The Protagonist due to the character’s one-dimensional demeaner, a choice intentionally attributed to the spy as Nolan wanted him to feel “out of his depth” throughout his adventure.
Elizabeth Debicki and Aaron Taylor-Johnson both deliver passable performances when compared to Branagh and Pattinson who steal the show thanks to their polar-opposite personalities as a ruthless arms-dealer and quick-witted secret agent respectively.
Visual effects and sound design are often forgotten about in the eyes of the general public, but Tenet puts these two crucial elements centre stage.
From crashed cars rolling back onto the road and continuing to drive, to reversed fight sequences creating increased impact through an intensifying score, you can tell a lot of love was put into Nolan’s passion project.
Nolan’s latest feature may be littered with confusion and a disappointing sub-plot between Debicki’s Kat and her unnamed son, but its engaging narrative, compelling visual effects and unique concept makes the palindrome-named film one of my favourites from the renowned director - and of 2020.