Jan’s review published on Letterboxd:
THIS REVIEW DOES NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS
I went to see Tenet again today evening and while it isn't still Nolan's finest, it is a great film that gets better after a rewatch.
With this review, I'd like to dive deeper into why I find Christopher Nolan's Tenet so exceptional. So let's work our way from the very beginning of the production to the final cinematic experience.
So without further ado, enjoy and please let me know what you think of this review.
Christopher Nolan has said that he had been working on the story for Tenet for over 10 years. And it shows. This is conceptually easily Nolan's most ambitious, and arguably, his most complex work. If I were to draw a timeline for Tenet, I have a rough idea of how it'd look, but to think that one man can create such a complex story with the awesome, original idea of inversion is mind-blowing to me. The twists enhance the plot and add rewatchability instead of being there for shock value.
The story Nolan has created is complex, difficult, and above all, mind-boggling.
This is where I have to mention my biggest issue with the film after a rewatch. The script doesn't characterize most of its characters nearly enough. It is a rare film from the director that feels cold at its core. Elizabeth Debicki's Kat is the heart of the movie, and I really cared for her. But Nolan mostly delivers characterization through action; and however well he does it, however experienced he is in it, I just needed to know more about people other than Sator and Kat. If Nolan wants to experiment and make the protagonist's name literally The Protagonist, then fine. Let him do it. But the movie needs to make me care. Compared to Nolan's finer work, the biggest difference is that his best films make me cry. Unfortunately, I never came close to that with Tenet.
Still, it is a very good script. Some dialogue can be expository, but I am completely fine with hearing a minute of info to have it followed by a ten-minute, mind-boggling action sequence.
While definitely not amongst the director's best scripts, it is an ambitious, enthralling screenplay with a huge scope.
Christopher Nolan is a phenomenal director. His best efforts for me are The Dark Knight and Dunkirk, followed closely by... well, every single other film of his.
Picking Nolan's best work is like choosing a favorite child - it is nearly impossible. Tenet is a fantastically directed movie. To even think of action sequences so complex and then to bring them to real-life without nearly any VFX is just mind-boggling.
And while Nolan went under the bar with some aspects of the movie (namely characterization), he outdid himself with others.
This is the easiest category to review. You just can't find a weak link in the cast nor the performances. John David Washington is so charismatic, Robert Pattinson is so goddamn cool and badass, Elizabeth Debicki carries the emotional side of Tenet with a beautiful performance, and finally, Kenneth Branagh is a really damn scary villain. He has deep anger issues and some actions he did, namely to Kat, just made me hate him and want him to burn in the deepest pits of hell. He gives the audience the feeling that he might explode and burst out with anger any second so effectively.
Tenet's cast is yet another all-star ensemble by Nolan, and everyone gives their best.
Hoyte van Hoytema is one of my personal favorite cinematographers working right now. Not only that, but he is unarguably one of the best. The way he manages to capture images so beautifully is mesmerizing. I love what he does with light. Also, the overall green-tinted look of Tenet is dazzling. The colorist, Kostas Theodosiou has worked with Nolan before, and looking at his IMDb credits, he does make some alluring films.
Many people were skeptical when it was announced that Hans Zimmer won't be scoring Tenet and Ludwig Göransson will be in charge instead. I was never scared.
In fact, I was so eager to see what a different voice would bring to a Chris Nolan film. Don't get me wrong, I love-love-love everything Hans Zimmer has done - Interstellar being my favorite film score of all-time, but Göransson had already proven himself as one of the best young minds in the industry with Black Panther.
The score he has created for Tenet is exactly what I'd imagine: synth-heavy, highly technical, looping arpeggios with huge, wide basslines and some awesome, tense themes. Also, I will not tolerate any slander towards Travis Scott's phenomenal title song.
The highlight of the music for me is the highway chase sequence. The first time I heard and saw and experienced it was unmatched. Leading us to our next, and final part of this review,
The Cinematic Experience
Seeing Tenet in a midnight screening with the theatre jam-packed full is and always will be one of my fondest memories of cinema. The excitement leading up to the film can only be compared to last year's Endgame. I had a great audience and it truly felt like I had seen something special walking out of the cinema. Because that is exactly what Tenet is.
A special experience.