Tenet ★★★½

It took me a week to finally put into words how I feel about this film. It pains me to give it a mere three and a half stars, but I couldn't justify a higher rating. The spectacle is stunning, the concept thrilling, and the visual effects jaw-dropping. But the emotional core of this film is weak and, at points, practically non-existent. The characters are easy to root for, but their arcs are difficult to distinguish and their backstories are a mystery. Neil's farewell and a few of Kat's scenes offer a glimpse of something deeper, but it seems Nolan was too preoccupied creating a complex plot to spend significant time developing his characters. Though the mechanics of Tenet are well-thought out, many of the details may be lost on casual viewers. While I was happy to peruse articles explaining the plot's intricacies, not everyone will be, a fact which will alienate some viewers.

If anyone else would've made such an ambitious and convoluted film, Tenet might seem more impressive. Unfortunately, it doesn't stack up against Nolan's previous works. Inception was brilliant for innumerable reasons, but the fascinating concept wouldn't have felt grounded without Cobb's emotional backstory and relatable goals. Interstellar also went above and beyond by balancing thrilling set-pieces with the heartbreaking father-daughter relationship between Cooper and Murphy. In this respect, Tenet fails. Watching Elizabeth Debicki endure abuse at the hands of an evil to the core Kenneth Branagh doesn't constitute true emotion.

Does Tenet consistently push the envelope and provide a unique film-going experience? Absolutely. Does Tenet have a clearly defined theme, relatable characters, and comprehensible dialogue? I'd argue no. Tenet is simultaneously brilliant and flawed, a breathtaking head-scratcher. Though I think elements of the story could've been improved significantly, I'd still highly recommend experiencing this film in theaters if you can do so safely.

Block or Report

Grace_Pontius liked these reviews