Tenet ★★

Inception 0.5, except Nolan released it later for some reason. The dialogue is still 40% exposition, except now everyone involved's trying to trick you into not processing anything properly by throwing it at you at lightning speed. Probably a smart move, ultimately, given how chock full of inconsistencies the whole thing. The way inverted objects interact with non-inverted ones vs how they interact with people, the very core of "reverse entropy" being a bit questionable as the entire system of reversed objects is seemingly based on human interaction, they bring up oxygen being an issue for inverted lungs yet don't seem to consider that by the same logic inverted people should also be unable to smell, deaf, and arguably blind. Things like this wouldn't bother me normally, but when a bulk of your dialogue is exposition explaining the seemingly deliberately convoluted rules and details of your world, it kinda matters when the film itself totally undercuts them.

The action is both lacking in its central gimmick and also severely let down by it when it does come up. The hand to hand fight is awkwardly slow and the big finale is completely devoid of any actual enemy threat in its big shootout beginning. There are some neat isolated moments, like the reverse crash or the double building explosion (which also kind of breaks the movie's time rules, really), but ultimately I question if there's actually enough reverse time stuff actually happening here to justify its central story mechanic, budget, or runtime, at least purely from the perspective of it being an action film.

As a drama...oh boy. I'd heard a lot about how this was almost completely detached and lacked any sense of real humanity or personality from its characters. To me, this registered as a good thing, as I think Nolan is ripe for being a more abstracted filmmaker who stuffs in emotional cores that almost never land in too much of his work. Well, unfortunately, it's the worst of both worlds. The vast majority of the characters are in fact mostly disconnected and vaguely defined, but lack the fluidity in perspective or almost expendability present in something like Dunkirk. Instead, we follow a man who seems to follow those traits, but is then revealed to be the all important Protagonist (ugh) the whole time. This not only throws some big wrenches into the whole Free Will idea of the work, but also just leaves its characters in this weird flux of not being fleshed out enough to care about, nor replaceable enough to be taken as ideas over people. Meanwhile, the handling of Kat is a travesty. A fluctuation between cheap torture porn and film school grade establishment of personal stakes, whose final big "strong" action is utterly predictable from the get-go, and manages to over-exposit her "arc" as one could generously call it in advance of it even actually happening.

I liked the soundtrack though.

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