Ash’s review published on Letterboxd:
What do you get when you take a director - who has been at the peak of his career for over a decade now, and seems to show no signs of declining or slowing down - and you give him full artistic and creative freedom to dream out his biggest ambition yet - a wholly unique, original, mind-bending twist on the concept of time? You get this epic, immaculate, globe-trotting, genre-bending, spy-inspired, insane masterclass of a film that is essentially the kind of film you’d expect from Nolan, even though he’s operating far beyond his comfort zones.
TENET is the perfect films to welcome global audiences back to cinemas - a colossal film that truly showcases Nolan's love for cinema and filmmaking through expressing his love for the spy genre and blockbusters he watched (as a child) growing up, which is encompassed in the originality and theatricality of his blockbuster meet time-bending meet mind-bending work.
It’s a truly insane achievement. Not just how Nolan, cast and crew have managed to actually film this movie, but in how Nolan even wrote and thought of the film’s plot. No spoilers, here, but with the concept of inversion, the reversed entropy of an object/person as defined in the study of quantum physics, he pulls off one of the most ambitious and insanely gargantuan plots and concepts put to the big screen - and he puts it onto the big screen in true Nolan fashion, delightfully a joy to watch on the big screen, and picture perfect on IMAX, filmed on IMAX film by DP Hoyte Van Hoytema, with that gorgeous footage being edited by the film’s wonderfully talented editor, Jennifer Lame, who had the ludicrously challenging job to edit this, a film with a spine that goes either ways, and she just executes her vision here in perfect synchrony with Nolan, forming quite the whole and successively ambitious work, that will truly captivate audiences, Nolan fans, film fans and fans of the big screen cinematic experience.
Beyond the (what should be impossible) stunt work and the Nolan-sized practical sets that bring a full sense of grounded realism to the film, it’s brought to life by a cast that just blends in so well with each other. Chemistry that is unmatched in some cases here - John David and Robert, John David and Debicki. They are at their A-games - Debicki a strong but vulnerable performance that brings to light her strengths, and Robert Pattinson with a cool, calm, sleek demeanour that brings life to the story and brings comedy and theatrics to the characters - but this is ultimately John David Washington’s film, and he deserves that praise, not just for his stoic, charming acting, but also for the pure, raw, adrenaline-filled physicality he brings to the role and embodies in all his action scenes, with eagerness, passion and hard-working determination. He is a STAR and he’s gonna be aiming for big things, which he ultimately deserves. He’s such a different actor and performer from his dad, much more his own version of charm and stoic - a sort of cold meets warmth - and his physicality just eagerly transcends his acting into a physical realm that is nothing but impressive. He is insanely great.
I’m saying insane a lot because this film is just massive and it is very much insane, but I’ll have to use it once more because one of the major defining highlights of the film is the film’s score from Ludwig Göransson, which is a massive part of the film’s cold mood, its blasting action, its cathartic themes and its overall tone, in the balancing of narrative emotion and action. His work here is sublime, best of his career and one of the best of Nolan’s filmography so far, and definitely up there with Zimmer’s Interstellar and Inception scores. It is phenomenal work.
I’m speaking more about the “objectivity” of the film rather than the “subjectivity” in the many emotions it made me feel because I am still quite overwhelmed, if I’m being fully honest about it, and I was just wowed away by the shining ambition, passion, curiosity and genius exhibited by the cast, crew and Nolan in the making of this work, in the marketing of this work, and in the actual wonderful film itself too, and I think I was just so blown away, especially when it felt extra poetic to return to cinemas the way I left it - with a Nolan film in IMAX. I just think Nolan has once again aimed for the stars, and probably further beyond, and he has once again hit that mark creatively and beautifully, with another truly mesmerising and cerebral work that will truly work on your mind whilst delivering stunning action and a thrilling plot that will keep you at the edge to the very end.
This is Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film, and certainly tied for his best, which in my case means a lot, because it would be up there with my all-time favourite, Interstellar, and I think with his confidence in his own genius, he has assured himself a masterclass of a film that uses quantum physics to carry out the vision he has for the film in the most perfect ways. With Tenet, Nolan has achieved the impossible - with his narrative and practicality, with a film that transcends the laws of time and its linearity, and goes beyond to deliver a cinematic and theatrical experience unlike any other. It’s a film that blew me away and unblew me away back to my seat. Tenet is the film of 2020, for me, and I really don’t see anything topping it there.