Christopher Nolan’s M.O. is complicating a simple narrative by manipulating time and perception. In Tenet, he gets too caught up in this own shtick that this sci-fi action thriller is too gimmicky to care about.
Being a Nolan movie, the screenplay is well-crafted.
Tenet is a globe-trotting thriller with stunning locations, nice suits, intense set pieces, and memorable film score. In one scene, the inverted Protagonist visits the past where everything is moving backward.
And also being a Nolan movie, the script is a clusterfuck.
“Don’t try to understand it, feel it”, a scientist says. But there is nothing to feel in this movie. Tenet is a self-indulgent time-bending movie that’s sabotaged by its own pseudoscience. The plot is caught in a temporal pincer move, a plot device within the movie.
On one hand, you have a Protagonist who is moving backward in his own pre-apocalyptic story. On the other is a monomaniac intent on killing himself and taking the world with him. In the middle is the audience, subjected to scrambled narratives and stock characters.
The cast is helpless against a detached script. Washington is a blank slate. Debicki isn’t fridged, but no female character can exist in a Nolan movie without getting hurt. So she’s angry and abused all the time. Branagh is Branagh with a passable accent. Pattinson manages to insert ambiguity in his role.
The movie uses Kat to add a human element to a thriller that’s desperately trying to be a high-concept sci-fi. But Washington has more chemistry with Pattinson than Debicki.
And what about the impending war? In the end, no one knows. Somehow machines and parts go back in time and we’re being attacked by the future. Very bad people are taking advantage of it.
Tenet is a sci-fi action thriller that has confused ambiguity and suspense with opaqueness and bewilderment. It’s irritating instead of intriguing; confounding instead of challenging. It’s hard to understand and provides no motivation for you to try.
Tenet is a gimmicky sci-fi thriller that aims to be another trippy Nolan movie but ends up as an irritating, confusing, and inaccessible self-indulgence.