Sawyer’s review published on Letterboxd:
Okay I have so much to say about this mess I’m going to have to break it into categories:
The first half of the movie:
I straight-up thought the first half of this movie was TERRIBLE. I think it is the worst writing that Nolan has ever done (and this man wrote Interstellar and Dark Knight Rises). The opening scene is bad, and then we are introduced to one useless character after another who is only there to deliver exposition. Every single character in the first half exists solely to explain/be explained to the plot of the film. It is so tedious and awful that I was almost completely taken out. Even Robert Pattinson’s character! Every scene with him was him and John David Washington walking while he explained the plot to him. It was so so bad. It is SOOO obvious that Nolan came up with this concept and wrote a script around it. He seemed to put no unique aspects or characters or anything into the characters or structure. It is so predictable and BORING.
The Female Characters:
Going back to these useless exposition characters... Nolan is terrible at writing female characters. Let’s break them down.
Lady #1: Did this woman have a name? She explains to “The Protagonist” (we’ll talk about him later) the inciting action of the movie for 10 minutes. That’s it. I don’t think she’s given a name.
Indian Lady: Wait-this twist doh! A WOMAN?? is the arms dealer??? Woah, he REALLY bended gender stereotypes there. Like cmon, I didn’t think women could do stuff like that! WOAH Nolan, great twist. I’m just joking, this was so dumb and this lady just is there to feed information to the audience.
Elisabeth Debicki (I cannot remember her character’s name, I wonder why): She cares about her SON because she’s a woman and women are mothers. So of course she loves her SON. So bad. She has no character to the point where it’s laughably bad. “Everyone in the world will die”
“THAT INCLUDES MY SON”
Every other character:
Sure I enjoy Robert Pattinson but I couldn’t tell you one unique trait about him. He’s hot and he’s British... Kenneth Branagh as the bad guy? I don’t know, felt super underwritten and trite. I kept waiting for the “real bad guy” the whole time but nope, just him. And I can’t remember any other characters I bet there was more they just probably sucked.
This name...is so fucking stupid. It feels like some edge-lord came up with it, and it doesn’t even make sense in the story!!! He also just has no discernible personality, Washington is straight-up terrible in this. He’s a good actor! but it feels like he’s reading these lines for the first time. It is very weird, they attempt for his character to have one-liners a couple times and oh boy.... It is a flatline, every single time. Every joke he made was so bad that I ended up laughing just because of how bad it was. They kind of forgot that he was supposed to be a wise cracker most of the movie (thank god).
When the whole concept of the movie was revealed I thought it was really neat. It gave the whole movie a cleverness and complexity that it was really lacking before. It suddenly became much more inventive and exciting... almost like it was the stuff Nolan really wanted to make??
For the most part the action was pretty great. The opening scene is terrible for some reason and there’s multiple moments where the backwards stuff looked SO goofy that it made me giggle. The rest was pretty great and exceptionally well done. It is what makes the movie. I know I’m being really negative on it... that’s because the script is terrible but the concept and action are really great and could’ve made for a masterful action movie. I still have two complaints: It was super weird that they never showed the enemies they were shooting at in the end scene. Like never. I was really puzzled who they were fighting because they never showed who they were shooting or who was shooting at them. Super weird I don’t get this. And two, MINOR SPOILER JUST SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO SKIP why did they need half of them going backwards and half going forwards? I get that they did it cause it looked cool... but why? There is a lot of stuff that feels like it only happened... because it looks cool.
I know everyone is complaining about this, but the sound mixing is AWFUL. So many scenes where I couldn’t make out what people were saying. While the bad guy is revealing his plan THEY KEPT CUTTING TO HIM THROUGH A WALKIE TALKIE AND I COULDN’T HEAR WHAT HE WAS SAYING. JUST DON’T DO THAT OR TURN HIS AUDIO UP! The sound design and score were great though. I loved hearing the booming score pumping through the theater.
All in all, I think you should see this movie. It was really fun to figure out the movie as (the second half) went along. I like that it made my think (even though if you think too hard some parts don’t make sense). Nolan is a masterful director but please no one let this man write a screenplay by himself again. I hesitate to say it but I think he’s really bad at writing. 🤷♂️