Tenet

Tenet ★★★

Nolan's latest is an ambitious blockbuster, crosscutting chronologies, weaving his intercutting from his best-known triumph - The Dark Knight - into the inventive narrative logistics of his playful neo-noir: Memento. Its palindromic structure is used to great effect, cycling between timelines, and proves fertile ground for some wonderfully indulgent editing gymnastics.

But, I can't help but feel, despite how believable and earnest all the performances are, especially Elizabeth Debicki's Kat, that this is a movie that desperately wants us to care about its central cast, but which can't draw them with enough clarity or forward momentum to free them from their emotional stasis. I wanted, so badly, to care for these characters; there is wonderful chemistry between Washington and Pattinson here. But, the relentless pacing keeps them, consistently, at arm's length. And, despite Nolan's plea to "just feel it," a plea I was all too happy to heed in his other shallowly heady, but deeply introspective blockbuster, Interstellar, Tenet lacks a strong emotional core to which we can cling.

The sum total is a film that is lavishly inventive in its pure spectacle, but which feels almost totally ephemeral. It's not a bad film, far from it, but I can't think of another reason to see this besides, damn, that was some impressive choreography. And, if that's your best pitch to risk catching a deadly disease in the midst of a pandemic, then I don't find myself entirely convinced.

(Incidentally, I got to see this at a drive-in, which was wonderful, even as I contorted myself into pretzels to see the screen. It was just nice to see a movie in a theater, as it were, again.)

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