Matthew E.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Yep, this thing is impenetrable as hell. Throws you right into the deep end with the opera house opening. There's no way you're supposed to be able to track all of the balls being juggled, right? Even so, there was enough big budget blockbuster spectacle to it all to serve as a strong hook. And that dynamic basically ends up running thru the whole movie. Even with all of the inversion gobbledygook, there's still some strong secret agent beats that are pretty fun to watch, even with that overarching story structure being nearly impossible to follow too. I have no idea how much of that is intentional or not. Like what's the deal with that Goya art again now?? What happened with Sator at that blown up Soviet city?? I'm lost.
Felt a little similar to INCEPTION, where there are a handful of scenes with one character explaining the rules of the movie's kooky concept to another character, and the movie's kind of like "so you get it, right?" That one could always lean on dream logic though, and this one's more math based, so you'd assume it'd be much stricter with rules. But you always come away with more questions than answers. Seems like a throng of army dudes walking backwards out of a giant U-Haul truck would be super easy to mow down for even just one bad guy with a machine gun?? And people moving backwards appear to really stand out, but they can also be super stealthy when the plot needs them to be?? If I saw a couple dudes carrying a stretcher while trotting backward like they're in rewind, I'd stop trying to put out the big fire and be all "Hold up... Da FUCK is that?!? I'm outta here y'all." I don't get it. The movie even basically outright tells you "don't try to understand it", but since this movie is so seemingly cerebral, it feels more like a cop-out to cover all the stuff that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Maybe it's all legit, I'll never know.
So one of the main legs this movie's standing on is pretty wobbly, but whatever. You can still enjoy the wacky action scenes you get from it and just enjoy the simplified dumb fun of watching stuff move around in ways they're not supposed to. All of the high-falutin characters in this are pretty thinly drawn in, but it all generally worked for the most part. The explanation we get for Sator's motivation is pretty yikes though. Thought John David Washington was pretty solid as the uber-competent secret agent badass. He'll still get some groaners like "Whoa... where I come from, you'd hafta buy me dinner first" when he's getting patted down. Robert Pattinson seemed especially potent here, when I haven't really been blown away by a lot of his more recently acclaimed roles. Of course, a lot of it looks amazing. I agree with most of the knocks, but I still had fun with it.