Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Don't try to understand it. Feel it.
If there was going to be one filmmaker that could bring me back to movie theaters at least one more time this year, it was going to be Christopher Nolan. Which, I mean, I should start my review with that. If my estimations are correct, this is my first time in a theater in about six and a half months. With my mask on and being properly socially distanced from others, I ventured out to my local venue to in-person experience a new movie. It was good to be back, at least somewhat. Feeling the vibrations of the music in the ground and in my seat. Having a giant-ass screen in front of you that you can't look away from. It did eventually get a little hard to breathe normally in my mask, which I think just comes down to me not being used to wearing a mask for a lengthy stretch of time. For that reason alone, and even just looking ahead to other movies slated for release this year, this might be my last visit I make to a theater in 2020. In any other circumstance, you wouldn't catch me dead saying that. However, as this film itself likes to say, we live in a twilight world. So, that out of the way, now onto the actual movie.
In the very short amount of time from when I finished Tenet to now as I currently write this review, I've had to try to figure out how I can talk about this movie without talking about it. I'm going to go with the plan that never fails, and I'm going to wing it. Just stick with me and we'll see where this goes. I really liked Tenet. Where it counts, I had a damn good time with it. I don't think truer words have ever been spoken in a movie about itself than "Don't try to understand it. Feel it." It's made clear almost immediately that Nolan is putting his priorities in places that are actually often against what general cinematic conventions would tell you to do. The performances are good, but the characters on their own are like paper dolls. Unlike some other viewers, the sound at my showing was perfectly fine. I was able to hear everything said. However, it doesn't matter that much when most of the dialogue feels like coded messages. There are words being said by people that connect to something, but what those connections mean aren't certain, at least at first. These sound like two really bad flaws for a movie, don't they? Maybe they would be otherwise. But again, we're not dealing with a traditional movie. For the vast majority of the experience, Nolan puts his trust in one thing above anything else: Aesthetics. Tenet is most concerned with how it looks, how it sounds, and how it moves. It's wanting to leave you feeling instead of knowing. In that case, mission accomplished. Ludwig Göransson's score is phenomenal, a positive lock for the best of the year unless something else ends up blindsiding me. Hoyte Van Hoytema's camerawork is smooth and showy, always offering faces and places to just get yourself soaked in. The ultimate highlight is the action, with little competition being the best Nolan has ever done, and some moments and sequences in this are unlike anything I've ever seen in another movie, as well as being things that will likely never be in a movie again. Keeping it vague, keeping it simple, go see this. Whether you want to make the venture to your local theater, if you want to wait until it's available to rent, or even if you want to see it through, ahem, less than legal means, I won't judge the format, just give it a look. I will for certain be watching this again. When and how is up in the air, but it will be happening down the line. I believe in film and John David Washington.