Kern’s review published on Letterboxd:
Loved it as a roller coaster ride, enjoyed it substantially less as an exposition-heavy espionage thriller. Never been interested in keeping up with the plotting of even my favorites in the Bond series—gun to my head I couldn't tell you even a rough sketch of the bad guy motivations of any of the recent ones, and I watched all 4 in the past few months—which is why I deeply appreciate the recent Mission: Impossibles for stripping the plot down to the essentials, effectively creating set piece machines. Had Nolan done that with his latest, this may very well stand up amongst my favorites of his work. Instead, he makes two very convoluted films in one: 1) the typical Nolan Time Fuckery movie I craved, and 2) the rapid-fire exposition machine I didn't want. Even so, they mostly merge together well—what a shocker that Nolan's pause-for-a-moment-and-the-logic-falls-apart ludicrous narrative structuring pairs well with the typical pause-for-a-moment-and-the-logic-falls-apart character motivations of a spy game thriller!
What can I say? I got a rush out of the nonsense, on a first watch at least. Maybe subsequent watches will see me as a champion for its internal narrative consistency as I begin to piece together the details I was initially happy to breeze by. Or maybe I'll go the other way, arguing for it as a sheer spectacle piece, its convoluted plotting as a means of misdirection (or whatever). Regardless, I found it thrilling, and, like pretty much all of Nolan's work, I'm excited to see it again.
Side note: Took this long to see it because I refused to go see it unless I could be certain I'd have the theater to myself, not because I'm scared of getting COVID-19—though, I mean, yes that too—but mostly because I get extremely anxious being in a room with strangers now, and that kind of mental distraction would make it impossible for me to enjoy the film, let alone try to follow it.