This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
eliburnsteens’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
There's an undeniable god-level craft to this, regardless of your mileage on Nolan (which for the record is very little in my case). The action, choreography, staging, direction, sound, (and OOOOH THAT LUDWIG SCORE) make for some unforgettable spectacle cinema that is just a true and pure pleasure to watch. If only Nolan didn't lay bare his own emptiness by trying to make it about something entirely different.
Uber-confusing structure and plot aside, the core idea of Tenet is a simple one, and pretty sentimental for Nolan. It's a blunt, unsubtle call to action. The threat of annihilation is a predetermined, fated outcome of the apocalypse, resulting from ecological destruction and exhaustion of natural resources. It is GOING to happen, unless our protagonist (who represents, you, the individual, and if you didn't know this don't worry he is literally named the protagonist and people call him 'protagonist' because script is where we put directly put our ideas and thoughts). The actual mechanics of the time-bullshit make perfect sense here on paper: Changing the future requires individual action whose manifestation is made up of two components, the intention behind action and the physical follow-through of it. You see? All you have to do is act individually with good intentions and THAT is a magical power we all have to change the course of history by making our dent on it.
Let me be clear: I think this is rad as hell to make a movie about! What keeps me from getting down on my knees and worshipping this is Nolan's career-long inability to write or care about human emotion. Not just in the garbled and frankly useless script, but also in the structure of this whole movie. That clever and simple call-to-action is buried beyond recognition under mountains of meaningless plot, all in service of a magnificent setpiece machine that deliberately contorts itself to avoid any understanding of the movie, which anihhilates any accessibility to its very simple message, which if uncovered just feels undercooked and broad.
I think the release of this movie is so poetically fitting for the actual film. If this was Christopher Nolan's "jesus christ please save the world we're going to die and you all need to start doing shit right now" movie, THE GUY PROLLY WOULD NOT HAVE RELEASED IT IN A PANDEMIC. IF HE DIDN'T REALLY CARE ABOUT THAT AND JUST WANTED TO PUT A SWEET NOTE UNDERNEATH HIS DUMB BEAUTIFUL SPECTACLE THEN HE WOULD PROBABLY RELEASE IT IN A PANDEMIC.
Anyways mad respect for the craft. Mad disappointment at wasting it on something so empty.