Tenet

Tenet ★★★½

First trip to the theater since the pandemic hit. Found a near-empty IMAX screening (just two other moviegoers), masked up, and got in and out as quickly as possible. Certainly not an ideal viewing experience, but I felt like I had to see the new Nolan in the proper setting and format.

When a scientist introduces our protagonist to entropic inversion(?), she says, "Don't try to understand it. Feel it." That may as well be Nolan's statement to the audience because I couldn't begin to describe the specifics of Tenet's temporal conceit. I also couldn't discern about 40% of the dialogue thanks to the sound mix (do I need to get my hearing checked?), which didn't help my comprehension, but ultimately I'm not sure it really matters. Tenet is, to a surprising degree, essentially a James Bond movie—right down to the foreign, scenery-chewing villain who seeks global control—except sexless (aside: Why are Nolan movies so sexless? He likes writing wives but never sex. That's ripe for psychoanalysis!). Of course, in typical Nolan fashion, the story folds in on itself like the cityscape in Inception. Has the filmmaker's primary thematic and structural preoccupation finally crippled him? Maybe. But at some point I stopped trying to figure it all out and just enjoyed the ride. The narrative propulsion, the rhythms, the score, the editing, the action, the cast... I was into it. Or maybe I had just really missed going to the theater to see a big-budget Hollywood action thriller. My fear, however, is this is a thrill ride that evaporates with time.

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