Jake’s review published on Letterboxd:
Does a half star rating seem hyperbolic? Sure. Do I give one single solitary semblance of a fuck? Absolutely not. So all the insufferable Nolan fanboys who show up in the comments section of people who give this a low rating, waste your time elsewhere. I will not be reading it because I care about you as much as I care about the people in this movie. That is to say, not at all.
I have NEVER seen a movie this goddamn smug about itself. So convinced of its own intelligence. So INFURIATING in its desperation to be so edgy and innovative that it ends up being inane and REALLY fucking stupid... even though it attempts to tell you how smart it is for THE WHOLE RUNTIME WHICH CONSISTS SOLELY OF BORING PERFUNCTORY EXPOSITION!
The only Nolan movie I disliked before this was Inception, and it feels like he took everything that made Inception drive me mad and amplified it by twenty billion to make a movie ENGINEERED to piss me off. Tenet here is an emotionally cold, boringly directed, adequately acted, and spectacle-less spectacle ‘experience’ that does not give me the slightest bit of what I look for in film or in art as a whole. It’s a bunch of generic action scenes that I am SURE took time and love to craft and choreograph, but the problem is that they’re so badly filmed it really doesn’t matter. The hand to hand combat in this film looks like it’s right out of Batman Begins back when Nolan didn’t know how to do action scenes. It’s shaky, generic, bloodless, and devoid of impact. The time gimmick this time around is the true main character, an element the script EXPLICITLY TELLS you is something you, AND I QUOTE: ‘shouldn’t think about’ and just go with it. Nolan has abandoned any inherent advantage his gimmicks might bring him like they did so masterfully in films like memento.
The characters are flatter than bargain value post-it notes. The actors are given a wasteland of a script that contains no personality, no defining character moments, and no humanity. And I thought the characters in INCEPTION were flat! This movie says ‘hold my fucking beer’ and stretches out these nothing people in this nothing story for two and a half hours and I know nothing about them. No one WANTS anything. No one FEELS anything, and if they did, they sure as fuck didn’t communicate it to the audience! The story is devoid of meaning, devoid of theme, devoid of EMOTION to the extent where I have to wonder how the fuck anyone can enjoy it. I felt nothing, I am exasperated, and I am so glad I didn’t pay to see this fucking thing and risk my life to watch something I loathed from start to finish.
I also take huge issue with Debicki’s character, who like the others is devoid of character or life, but doesn’t even get the ‘Nolan fridge’ treatment, she is SOLELY defined by her trauma, just her suffering at the hands of a man. Used only to try and inject empathy by constantly making her suffer and be put in pain to drive the plot.
Nolan’s worst film by a wide margin. It contains nothing but artifice, but even that is empty and boring. I can’t even say it’s well made. It may be impressively put together, but NONE of this effort shows, and is only furthered by the same-y score and cinematography. It was painful and laborious in every way, and I cannot think of a single solitary compliment I can afford it. It is exhausting, baffling, soulless, bloated, vapid, and most important, devoid of any humanity. It feels antithetical to cinema, but art in general. I deeply apologize for being so hard on Inception and even Dark Knight Rises, two vastly better films.
I am still in awe of how much I truly, utterly, despised this from front to back.