DIRECTOR: christopher nolan (dunkirk, interstellar)
STARRING: john david washington, robert pattinson, elizabeth debicki and kenneth branagh
REVIEWER: luke williams
A secret agent embarks on a dangerous, time-bending mission to prevent the start of World War III.
It's finally here. After all the delays Tenet has finally arrived to save cinema. And you couldn’t wish for a more perfect saviour in Christopher Nolan, the modern father of the cinematic dark arts. But even though Tenet is a complex, action stacked thriller it’s clunky dialogue can slow it down at times.
In a twilight world of international espionage, a CIA operative, known only as The Protagonist, is recruited by a mysterious organization to participate in a global assignment that unfolds beyond real time. The mission: prevent Andrei Sator, a renegade Russian oligarch, from starting World War III. But to stop Sator, the Protagonist must master the mysterious art of time inversion.
If you're looking for mindless entertainment, Tenet is not for you. As with most Nolan films the narrative is full of complex story arcs that take some time to resolve and requires your full attention. But the payoff is worth the wait.
The action sequences, some of them which you may have glimpsed in the trailers, are not only impressive but are as equally complicated as the plot of the film. There are a raft of reasons why Nolan’s films require a cinema viewing and the action sequences are one of those. They will have you on the edge of your seat with your mouth wide open in amazement.
However Tenet does stumble in between action sequences with some clunky and not always natural dialogue. The exposition is at times too heavy and at others to scant on detail (don’t try to understand it, just feel it) which can sometimes give the feeling of a disconnect between the action sequences and the rest of the film.
John David Washington continues in his impressive leading man form here in Tenet with a performance filled with charisma and raw brutality. Kenneth Branagh’s Russian baddie seems a little too caricature-ish and Debicki does a lot with very little with a character who sometimes slips into damsel in distress territory.
Unfortunately for Nolan the inevitable comparison with his previous masterful work will happen. While Tenet is not quite as good as Inception, Dunkirk or The Dark Knight Trilogy, it is definitely on par with his sci-fi epic Interstellar.
So will Tenet save cinema? Only time will tell.
Even though Tenet has clunky dialogue that can slow it down at times, it's still an ambitious, complex, action stacked thriller that demands the full cinematic experience.