FoofDeckman’s review published on Letterboxd:
Over the years I've heard people say that Christopher Nolan movies aren't great and they're a bunch of action shlock. For a while I disagreed with them as I really enjoy the majority of his movies. I have my problems with Inception, but that movie is still really solid. Christopher Nolan is clearly trying to replicate the same feeling people got from watching Inception, with this movie.
For me this was when Christopher Nolan's flaws started to show for me. I've heard so many good things about this and I was expecting to really like it, It was fine, but it has a lot of problems that weigh it down to be one of his weaker movies. This movie is action shlock that is pretending to be smart. This movie was pretty good regardless though and I still enjoyed myself. For those of you reading this that just want to know if it's worth seeing, I'd say yes, go see it. Besides that, I'm going to be comparing this movie a lot to Inception so if you haven't seen Tenet or Inception, don't read this.
[SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT]
One of the main flaws of this movie is the characters. The performances are all pretty great, but there's so many generic action lines just sprinkled throughout this movie to where I can't really take it seriously. The first 30 minutes or so is just characters spewing exposition. It's all vital information to how the rules work in this movie, but I would have much rather just have had it shown and left up to interpretation than just for the movie to tell me exactly what's happening. Cause when things do happen pretty much nothing makes sense until you get further into the movie when they explain the rules in a different context. So then I ask the question of what was the point of giving all of that exposition so early if you're just going to drop all of this again throughout the movie in chunks? For me it worked much better when it was sprinkled out than all at once in the beginning.
I like visually how the time travel operates, everything is in reverse and it's used pretty well in action scenes and also as a spectacle. There's lots of great looking fights and explosions used to the tea with this time reversal concept. All of that I felt was done really well. This is definitely Christopher Nolan's attempt at doing a summer blockbuster action movie, and on that front it succeeded. Its faults lie with the characters and time travel mechanics.
Now I know that I could probably understand it a bit better if I were to rewatch the movie. I feel this would benefit significantly with several viewings, cause by the time you think you understand what happened during your first watch, the movie is over. So much of this movie is just spewing information out at the audience at really quick rate to the point where it's almost overwhelming. So many different concepts are thrown at the audience where most of the earlier action scenes don't really work for me. I feel like it's trying act smarter than it really is, so it just ends up adding all of this convoluted nonsense at once that isn't really fleshed out until later on.
In Inception, I felt there was more of a personal angle taken. When Leonardo DiCaprio explains that how his wife died it really was able to flesh out his character and give the story more of an emotional core. That gave the audience more reason to care about what was happening and in this it just felt like, "oh we have to save the world cause the world is gonna cave in on itself". There really isn't a character connection to the main conflict in the movie. You don't really get a chance to connect with any of these characters and they're mostly just there to be used as puppets for great looking action scenes. Inception was able to really balance the spectacle and characters pretty evenly, with this it's definitely more focused on action than characters.
I really dislike the scores to most of these Christopher Nolan movies. A lot of the pieces worked the majority of the time. But there was a few parts where I got a headache with the BWAAAAAAAAAMP sounds and the WUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBs. I hate when Christopher Nolan adds those sounds into his movies cause most of these scenes really don't need that. I liked how when characters were in the Inverse reality the score had this sound as if it were being reversed too. It really fit well with a lot of those scenes.
Overall this movie is pretty fun. It probably sounded like I disliked the movie with how heavily I critiqued certain parts of it, but it really didn't hurt my enjoyment all that much. I feel it's a very good action movie, but it's not a good serious drama that I think it was going for. It acts way smarter than it actually is, and I'm sure once I rewatch this at one point I'll be able to get the gist of the mechanics more than I did on my first viewing. This movie definitely wasn't as good as people were saying, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.