Edgar Cochran ✝️’s review published on Letterboxd:
Significantly the most divisive Nolan feature yet, Tenet is founded on scientifically accurate principles, but breaks the physical rule of matter creation for action-exploitative entertainment purposes through the concept of time inversion that, for some bizarre and unknown reason, people keep calling "time travel". Nolan's weaknesses as a drama writer show more pervasively here, where his mind shows his permanent fixation towards the abused/traumatized wife and the unseen son.
Audiences are primarily divided in two parts:
-The film plays with a very astute concept, but executed very poorly, with nule character development and an unnecessarily convoluted plot management.
-The film is a Bond-esque showcase of time-space philosophy and impressionistic action thrills where the audiovisual spectacle is just the beginning of a film with more brains than the average blockbuster.
There's barely middle ground.
For starters, even if Shane Carruth's mathematically correct and theoretically flawless approach was related to time-travel, both Rian Johnson and Christopher Nolan made derivatives of Primer (2004). Johnson made it an action-thriller entirely made of popcorn. I won't complain greatly, except for the X-Men ending which was beyond preposterous. Carruth eternally facepalmed with Johnson's intentionally illogical linearity, but Nolan's ambitions are others.
Character arcs are non-existent. They are not a requirement for an action film to be good, but Nolan's lack of interest is shameless. Imagine a film where characters are the background and the central concept is the protagonist. That is the biggest sin of the film.
The second biggest sin is applying this concept to an ordinary espionage plot that reaches average Bond levels. At least Inception played some Melville-esque cards, particularly with the shady characters. Here, the plot is overtly simplified and stereotyped so that the time inversion concept can be exploited to its fullest capacity; however, the walls are already set by the plot conveniences, and hence, the boundaries as well. The opening sequence is top-notch impressionism and the craft is exquisite, but that's the best you'll get out of the whole show. The motivation of the villain could be mocked by Sean Connery in 1962 with one of his most famous lines.
Pacing and editing is top tier, with a score that tries desperately to imitate Zimmer (it does have its punches), and beyond the extraordinary amount of time dedicated to E.X.P.O.S.I.T.I.O.N., the action is justified for the sake of pop-cornish entertainment.
You see, Nolan at least is not replacing substance with audiovisual exploitation/spectacle gimmicks, but he is sidetracking character development to a cynical degree. I still prefer it over Gordon-Levitt pretending to be Willis, but this is certainly among the Hollywoodteur lowest moments.
Wait... Did I just make up a term?