Tenet ★★★★

True to Christopher Nolan form it's hard to take this movie all in on a single viewing, even if this may be the most stripped back, straight forward genre movie he's ever made. It's what a Miami Vice/Blackhat era Michael Mann making Terminator 2 would look like (With Nolan's obvious love for Bond that permeates all his other action films). A bunch of no nonsense professionals, planning and executing their jobs.

So while the prospect of Christopher Nolan doing a palindromic movie that turns into Memento meets Inception half way through sounds daunting, he's firmly in Dark Knight Rises fuckaround mode here, more interested in crafting a big rousing action adventure. The inversion stuff is more about visual spectacle than mind bending reality shifting. Spectacular it is, using practical stunts done backwards, seeing action set pieces from earlier in the film from different perspectives, it's Inception's hallway fight plus. There's a big army battle at the end which I feel he could've done more with, but at that point you're under so much white knuckle pressure it probably would've been too much.

I'm not sure where the "humourless slog" stuff comes in, it's got a sense of humour, it just happens to be super dry. John David Washington carries the film well, any issues with his role I'd put more on Nolan for under-writing than John who plays it like a boss, Robert Pattinson is charming as fuck and adds levity to every scene he's in. Aaron Taylor Johnson shows up in a role I assume Nolan wanted to cast Tom Hardy in originally. Kenneth Brannagh hams it up with pure cartoonish villainy.

Which is what holds this film back from being as great as some of the others in Nolan's filmography as of my first viewing (Bare in mind the same thing happened with Dunkirk which I ended up appreciating far more in repeated viewings), it's how little I buy all the stuff with Elizabeth Debicki's character. Kenneth's "If I can't have her no one can" is super antiquated even by 60's Bond villain pastiche standards, and why The Protagonist even cares that much about her by Michael Mann hyper masculinity is only to be used in the service of women standards.

Still, that stuff, and the bizarre sound mixing aside it's a great time, that I'm sure will give me plenty to unpack in future viewings.

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