Chris Popkoff’s review published on Letterboxd:
I too can press rewind.
This feels like it’s true audience is YouTube content creators that specialize in “_______ Explained” videos.
One thing that is clear to me is that John David Washington deserves to be a star; he’s compelling in this despite not having any character development, traits, or the benefit of the audience being able to hear half of his dialogue. The action feels like it could be great but ultimately is not because many of the scenarios feel specifically contrived for the purpose of having the action scenes and not because they make any sort of logical sense. It also doesn’t help that they are tethered to a gimmick that feels like a lot of work for little payoff. It reminded me of that great Roger Ebert review of “The Village” where at the end he fantasizes about rewinding the film and walking out of the theater backwards and watching the money from the cashier flow back into his hand.
The technical prowess of Nolan is unparalleled, which begs the question why does he feel it necessary to prove this at the cost of every other aspect of the film. Yes it looks great, but in service of what? The sound design is also obnoxiously showy/awful. I kept thinking to myself, imagine if this guy got to direct a Bond film but had to make it palatable for general audiences, it could be great, but instead, we’re stuck with this. Given this two and half stars for technical achievements feels like I am being too generous because I have no desire to ever watch this again.
Ultimately the problem with this movie is that it’s a puzzle, but puzzles are supposed to be fun, and this movie is decidedly not fun, it’s a slog.