Tenet

Tenet ★★★

"I'm not sure you made it loud enough, sir." (Alfred Pennyworth)

Tenet in IMAX was the most deafening movie theater experience I've ever had. The film's audio track is beyond ridiculous. The bloody thing is constantly blaring at you, it's exhausting and what's worse, it's counterproductive. The sound asserts over the top suspense even in the most mundane moments. Eventually I just didn't give a shit anymore. Which is a shame considering that Ludwig Göransson's score is actually fantastic, but the atrocious sound mix places it way too prominent in the foreground.

I would be happy if that was my only issue with Tenet. Unfortunately it is not. If you thought Interstellar was convoluted or that the characters in Dunkirk were flat, chances are you're really going to dislike Christopher Nolan's latest piece of work.

If you previously had rejoiced that Nolan finally realized that Morgan Freeman isn't the only black man in Hollywood, you might wanna brace yourself. John David Washington plays the single most uninteresting character Nolan has ever written. He didn't even give him a name, throughout the film he is only ever referred to as The Protagonist. If that wasn't telling enough, his character arc is non-existent. To be fair though, except for Elizabeth Debicki's Kat, nobody has one. And she is saddled with a clichéd trophy-wife-stuck-in-an-abusive-relationship-with-an-old-rich-asshole part, that makes you question the decade we're in. Well, at least Nolan didn't kill her. Only Pattinson is fun to watch, his character being similar to Josh Brolin's in Sicario, minus the asshole factor.

By far the best thing about Tenet is the production design, and Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography. It's just breathtaking. He even managed to make the final set piece look not entirely boring. A battle in the ruins of an Eastern European town, really? That's the best Nolan could come up with? Fuck's sake. The set pieces in general were a tiny bit underwhelming. My favourite was the massive chase scene in the middle. The plane sequence, for which they bought a real 747, that they could crash into a building, was kinda ruined by the most asinine exposition in Nolan's entire career. Right before it happens he literally explains what we are about to see. That is either expert level trolling or he lost his marbles. Given that his body of work doesn't exactly indicate that he has a sense of humor, I'm going with the latter.

I already mentioned the convoluted plot. The story is really simple, but it's told in an almost incomprehensible way. Maybe if I had understood most of the expository dialogue, I could've followed, but thanks to the abysmal sound mixing, large chunks of dialogue were simply unintelligible. From what I did understand, I gathered that the things the film only mentioned in passing, had they been the center of the story, would've probably made for a more intriguing movie. Once you've seen Tenet and realized that it's your usual end of the world scenario, just wrapped a little more elaborate, the whole secrecy fuss prior to release feels absurd.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive fan of Nolan's movies. They may have flaws, but for me in the end the sum has always been greater than its parts. Until now. My initial reaction to his last three films before Tenet wasn't particularly euphoric either, but they have grown tremendously on me. So maybe Tenet will too. I'm going to see it again on Sunday, but right now I feel the film has too many serious problems that won't vanish, no matter how often I'm going to watch it.

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