Tenet ★½

2020 Ranked

I normally do an actual quote, but honestly, this noise overshadows just about all dialogue.

I normally quite like Nolan movies, in fact, quite a few of his films I would say are really great, however Tenet really didn’t do anything for me. There’s something in there that would be interesting as a movie, but it’s hidden behind so much overly complicated nonsense and boring characters. The film at times feels like a series of loosely connected scenes, rushing through them at break neck speed. It doesn’t care for development, or characters, it just wants to showcase how ‘clever’ Nolan’s plots are and how great some of the action is. 

The actual time travel mechanic isn’t confusing, it’s the plot. It’s so convoluted in getting to point A to B, and does it in such a fast paced way that it’s hard to keep track of who’s who and where they are. Doesn’t help that every character is bland, emotionless, and sprouts exposition constantly. Not a single character feels real or like a genuine person with actual traits or motives. The ‘protagonist’ doesn’t even have a name, and honestly that’s all you need to know. It doesn’t care for its characters, or the audiences emotional investment. It wants you to lap up the spectacle and leave the cinema satisfied. 

I don’t think John David Washington was well cast at all. I’ve enjoyed previous performances by him, but here he felt stilted and awkward, especially delivering the awful comedic lines. He doesn’t have much chemistry with Elizabeth Debicki, another female character written so poorly by Nolan. Give her a kid and a bad guy husband, that’s her character sorted for Nolan. Robert Pattinson is totally wasted, but any scene involving him is above and beyond the rest of the movie. Kenneth Brannagh feels like a poorly conceived villain as well. Like a bad copy and paste of a bland Bond villain. With little to no motivation for his plan, and the little motivation he does have is just randomly dropped in halfway through the movie by another character. 

The sound design is horrible. Loud, obnoxious music over shadowing nearly every piece of dialogue being spoken. The editing is rather shoddy, oddly placed cuts between characters and scenes that make some of the plot hard to follow. The finale is just boring. A bland grey landscape, with so much going on all at once that makes it hard to follow. It’s just explosions and bullets wizzing around, I don’t think I even saw who the protagonists were fighting against. It’s just so messy. 

The film does manage to have a couple of decent action set pieces (the plane sequence, and some of the time stuff) but sadly these are few and far between. In between it just struggles to keep any sort of momentum of interest. It’s honestly the film that has disappointed me the most this year. So much potential, but sadly squandered.

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