Tenet

Tenet ★★★

I have rarely felt as justified in a decision as I do in deciding to not risk my life to go see Tenet in theaters.

The temptation to give in was brutal. After all, I've pre-ordered tickets for every Nolan film since the debut of his masterpiece Batman trilogy. I'm a resolute fan of his brainy approach to full-throttle cinematic grandeur. Somehow, I stuck it out, impatiently waiting for the film to be released to those of us who haven't smelled the agonizingly missed scent of buttered popcorn since the start of the year.

And, for the first time in 15(!) years, I walked away from a Nolan film feeling something I never thought I could feel after experiencing one of his films: underwhelmed. For all of its technical eye-candy and practical wizardry (all of which is top of the top-notch here once again), Tenet is a flat, maddeningly indulgent trifle that stands in the shadow of Nolan's incredible works.

Tenet's characters and the performances behind them are uninspired and the film is too caught up in its masturbatory obsession with its cool but inaccessibly dense (and surprisingly predictable) premise that it gets lost in a confounding maze of its own creation. And it never bothers to invest in the one thing that has made every Nolan film prior to it soar with unmistakable power: catharsis. This is a remarkably well-made vehicle punctuated by incredible (and I mean incredible) sequences that make your head hurt as much as they entertain. But without a soul, once you strip away Ludwig Göransson's slick techno score and the "wait a minute, how did they do that"'s, this is a cold affair that didn't engage me in the ways every other film in the director's repertoire handily has.

To my shock, unlike those three-dimensionally throttling works, this is a film I can't imagine myself even wanting to revisit any time soon. In a twist of fate, the first Christopher Nolan movie I was unable to see with bated breath in a packed theater hall along with other fellow aficionados is the one that I would've chosen to forego had I been given the choice to begin with.

P.S. Slight spoilers:

Doctor Who did the whole time-inverted characters thing way better with the character of River Song. At times, this film felt like a pricier imitation of it.

Scavenger Hunt 69 #23 of 31 - For this prompt, watch a film from a director whose artistic output you feel has gone a little downhill in this decade. (applying this one retroactively after seeing this film).

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