This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Phoebe @ LFF 2021’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
.enil tolp suolucidir ,detulovnoc a yb detacoffus tpecnoc elbidercni na s’ti ,ecnetnes eno ni pu siht mus ot dah I fI
The effort it took for you to read that is no way near the effort it takes to sit and enjoy this film. Yes, it’s Nolan’s typical fashion but, to compare it to Inception, Inception is complicated enough that it makes you think but not so complicated that you can’t believe in everything that’s going on.
This film tips the scales into almost impenetrable convoluted-ness. I absolutely love the inverted time concept which, similar to Inception, is mind boggling in a good way. With this in mind, all the extra plot devices are needless; one minute they’re crashing a plane into an airport, the next they’re running through a desert of bombs. The narrative hops from country to country like Taylor Swift hops between boyfriends. Despite all the embarrassingly clichéd plot exposition at the beginning, you’ve still got absolutely no clue what’s going on or why at any point.
Someone could neatly explain it to me afterwards, but if I don’t understand why anyone is doing anything as I’m watching the film then I’m simply not going to enjoy it. Even now, if someone asked me ‘what happened?’ I couldn’t even tell you - and I don’t think that’s for a lack of common sense on my part. The characters were somewhat interesting but Kenneth Branagh really steals the show as the most over the top, horrifically acted antagonist of all time. I find it a very strange casting choice to have him playing a Russian supervillain, and his character simply being an ‘evil’ man who wants the world to die with him just isn’t believable or layered enough to carry the plot.
I absolutely loved the inverted time action scenes such as the car chases and when they end up fighting their past/future selves. Them venturing into the inverted universe and watching inverted actions from the other side of a window are fascinating and incredibly tense, as the audience know whatever happens is totally out of the characters’ control because it has already happened.
This paired with the pounding score really does put Tenet on the same map as Dunkirk in terms of finding myself on the edge of my seat on multiple occasions. I may not have understood why, but at least this made for a sensory experience.
I couldn’t really decide what to rate this so I have gone slap bang in the middle. Overall I would definitely say I’m disappointed, and think this is a huge shame because it had so much potential to be a truly fantastic film.