Tenet ★★★★½

“I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it” - Missy Elliot

I have always loved time travel movies. It’s just so satisfying seeing plot threads be weaved, untangled, and weaved again. It’s satisfying seeing Doc Brown and Marty McFly retread plot events from Back to the Future from a different angle in Back to the Future Part II. It’s satisfying to see the cause of an event play out after already seeing its aftermath. I love watching all the moving parts click into place. This is the major concept of Tenet, and it takes this concept further than I’ve ever seen it taken before. It scratches an itch in my brain. Youtube-oddly-satisfying-compilation-core cinema.

This movie also reminds me more of a video game than any other movie I’ve seen (down to the aspect ratio changing during cutscenes). It reminds me of why I love the Portal games: they take one very simple concept and execute it extremely well. The concept of Portal that you have a gun that can shoot portals. You have to solve puzzles using these portals. That’s it, that’s the game. Yeah, there’s a storyline and a wise-cracking homicidal robot, but this is just scaffolding that holds the levels together. No one plays Portal for the story, they play it for the portals. That is how I see Tenet. Even down to the protagonist and antagonist designation.

And I mean, this isn’t a Harmony Korine film. Did we really miss Nolan trying to be sentimental? Did we miss the Matt Damon of it all? The Casey Affleck of it all? This is the film he’s been building towards this entire time. His oft-criticized fumbling of emotion and character completely stripped away. “Fuck it, I give up”, he says. It was extraneous. It just got in the way. With that shit out the window, he can focus on what he’s clearly been more interested in the whole time. And making it fucking bang.

And bang it does. My favorite Nolan so far.

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