Tenet Review

Tenet featured image John David Washington

Tenet is a 2020 science fiction action-thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Kenneth Branagh and the film follows a secret agent who learns to manipulate the flow of time, in order to prevent an attack from the future that threatens the present world.

Wow, where to begin! If you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Inception then you’ll love Tenet! Tenet is completely mind-blowing, often at times that mind-boggling that you need a second to pause and figure everything out that’s going on. With a run time of two and a half hours and plenty of food for thought throughout, Tenet is a film that will require your full undivided attention.

The film follows a secret agent as he travels through time and bends the laws of nature in order save the world. On the surface, the premise of Tenet sounds fairly simple but this is far from the case! The secret agent trying to save the world aspect of the story is fairly straightforward and simple enough to follow, but with the plot revolving around time reversibility, the narrative sporadically switches between the past, present and future, often without warning. This does give the film a superbly fast pace, but at times it feels like the film is trying to challenge your intelligence by unnecessarily complicating things.

John David Washington plays “The Protagonist” and puts in a standout performance as the lead character. I’ve been a fan of John David Washington for a while and enjoyed the free-minded character he plays in American football series Ballers. His role in Tenet is a complete contrast, playing a level-headed, adept secret agent to which he brings a cool, assured performance and persona to the lead character. I’d love to see John David Washington in more action-thrillers in the future and his performance in Tenet was an impeccable audition at what he can do.

Robert Pattinson plays Neil, the Protagonist’s handler and whilst his character doesn’t feature as much as John David Washington’s, his performance is equally as impressive. Neil is a confident and mysterious character, and there is constant doubt throughout the film as to which side he is fighting for. It doesn’t take long for Neil and The Protagonist to build up a good rapport and the chemistry between the two characters works well on screen.

There are a host of supporting characters in the film played by a number of well-known actors including Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh. Kenneth Branagh plays the main antagonist in the film, Andrei Sator, and his performance of the Russian oligarch was reminiscent of a James Bond villain. His Russian accent is fairly convincing, but it’s his dysfunctionally violent relationship with onscreen wife Kat (played by Elizabeth Debicki) that I found most impressive.

Tenet’s intense action sequences and stunning visuals are some of the most impressive in recent memory! There’s plenty of hand-to-hand combat in the film and this combined with the time reversibility concept make for some totally thrilling fight sequences. Likewise, the visuals for all of the backwards-movements and reversed dynamics are mightily impressive and enthralling; one can only begin to imagine the magnitude of the task of shooting such a complex film. 

One issue I did have with Tenet was the sound mixing, something which in all honesty I’d never really had any issues with in the past! Throughout the duration of Tenet, there were numerous occasions where the background noise actually drowned out the dialogue, often making it somewhat inaudible. At first, I thought this may have just been an issue with my sound setup, but after tweaking a few settings and messing with the volume, I still had the same issue. After a quick search online, I found that this was a common problem when watching Tenet. It’s never that bad that it makes the film unwatchable, but it doesn’t make what is already a complex film, any easier to understand.

There’s a lot I am still taking in from Tenet, it’s definitely a film that will require multiple watches to try and get your head around everything! I did really enjoy the complexity and excitement of the story and I love the fantastic blockbuster feel the film has to it.

The Verdict

Completely mind-boggling and completely enthralling, Tenet is one of Christopher Nolan’s most spectacular films to date.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


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