Dennis Duffy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Felt inspired to watch this again since Nolan thinks Tenet is going save cinema. It’s actually been almost 10 years since I’ve seen this. I got it on blu ray when it first came out, watched it once and haven’t since. It always left me cold, even in theaters. Nolan’s vision of dreams bored me. I wanted something more fantastical if that makes sense. I wish it wasn’t so grounded. You can have fun Nolan! You don’t have to make everything look so dull!
I still have a lot of those same feelings on this watch but I think I’m beginning to appreciate it a little more and at least understand why people love it so much. Nolan loves process. He loves how things work and wants everyone to know how cool it is. He can’t help but indulge in it throughout all his films but here it’s just so much fun because this is essentially a heist film and it’s a great one. Sure, he explains away maybe too much of this world’s mystery but I guess it’s gotta be accessible to people somehow.
While I’ve complained about how grounded everything is already the spectacle is still there and it’s undeniable. Nolan has his drawbacks as an action filmmaker but here everything works especially the way he splices it all together. This has got some the best cross cutting ever in a big blockbuster like this. Each level of the dream is balanced out perfectly when the action starts. Combine that with the rich photography from Pfister and the detailed production design, this is one of the most strikingly crafted action movies of the last decade.
Where this really works though, is with Dom Cobb, whose one of Nolan’s better protagonists. He’s at war with his own mind. He’s haunted by the memories of his children. We see glimpses of them throughout and see how Dom can’t bring himself to go to them. He’s convinced himself he doesn’t deserve to see their faces until he rights his wrongs. Mal on the other hand is there as a remainder of his failures. While his kids are out of reach Mal is upfront to remind him of what he did, of the mind he inadvertently destroyed. It’s not until he lets her go, do we see their faces.
Nolan’s movies always end on some sort of mostly wordless montage and this is the best of them. I’m still blown away by those final few minutes. You feel like this huge ordeal is over. You let out a sigh of relief. Surprised how earned it all is. There’s no definitive answer and there doesn’t need to be. Whether it’s real or not, to Dom it is and that’s all that matters.