Tenet

Tenet ★★★★★

2020 Ranked

Inception + MIAMI VICE + the frantic pacing and suspense of DUNKIRK = Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s best, most ambitious, most complex, most exciting, and most satisfying effort to date, so much that it feels like the film he’s been wanting to make throughout his entire career. The opening sequence is an absolute knockout in itself (somehow even making the opening sequence of DUNKIRK pale in comparison), and the rest of the film very much lives up to the promise of said opening sequence, offering multiple strong contenders for some of the very best action sequences in a Hollywood production of the upcoming 2020 decade. Even Nolan’s typical exposition flaws are absent here. With the exception of DUNKIRK (which, up until this point, I’ve considered to Nolan’s best film without any doubts), my issues with Nolan’s other works (even the ones I love) weren’t necessarily that he uses exposition, but instead that the exposition would cause his narratives to come to a grinding halt and therefore hinder the momentum. With Tenet, however, the more expository scenes feel much more naturally incorporated into the overall narrative and the film never once loses its momentum as a result, and this is largely due to editor Jennifer Lame (best editing of the year and it’s not even close), who further cements herself as one of the greatest editors working today. Other highlights in terms of production values include Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography, the sound design by Richard King (yes, the sound mixing is actually great and it drowning out some of the dialogue is an intentional choice!), Ludwig Göransson’s score (my favorite score in any Nolan film), the production design by Nathan Crowley, and the visual effects by Andrew Jackson and co. — all of whom, coupled with Nolan’s masterful direction, create what is easily one of the most satisfying tentpoles in recent memory. Many people (including fans of Nolan’s other works, oddly) seem to be complaining about the characters not being very complex, but I’d argue that character was never one of Nolan’s strengths in general and him choosing not to waste much time on them here is hugely beneficial to the film as a whole. In fact, a reason why I think Batman Begins is easily one of Nolan’s very worst films is precisely because of that film’s attempts at developing its blank slate of a protagonist and failing miserably in that regard (I greatly prefer The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, a huge reason being that they primarily focus on the villains, who are far more interesting characters to me than the Bale/Nolan Batman ever was). With that being said, the actors unsurprisingly prove to be more than capable enough in keeping the viewer engrossed in the narrative, with John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki in particular being the highlights.

Maybe I’ll have more to write upon repeat viewings, but overall, this is utterly tremendous. My new favorite Christopher Nolan film, and one of the absolute best films of the year. I’m now even more sad that COVID-19 prevented me from being able to see this masterpiece in a cinema.

I. Simon liked these reviews

All