Vincent Cook’s review published on Letterboxd:
What an absolute joy it was to be back in a movie theater for the first time since February, even though I had to drive three hours round trip out of state to see it (thanks for coming Kory!). Totally worth it. I adored every moment of the experience, especially being back in a theater to experience a brand new Nolan film.
While I enjoyed the film overall, I am fairly conflicted on Nolan's latest venture into the world of time. I have tried to describe this film to a couple people since I saw it yesterday, and I feel like a lunatic trying to explain what happened.
Tenet has everything I adore about Nolan's filmography, post-Insomnia: a racing, epic score; grandiose, jaw-dropping visuals & practical effects; large-scale, intense, fluid fight choreography & stunts; beautiful, scenic locations; a dark, saturated color palette; loud, detailed, jarring sound effects; and immersive cinematography that magnificently utilizes 70mm & IMAX cameras to capture an absurd amount of in-camera action, visuals, extras, and massive events. All of that is here and executed to perfection. It's a technical masterpiece, like virtually all of Nolan's films have been. He continues to employ a truly talented group of people to work on his films with him. Now if he could just get some help with his scripts.
This film is confusing as HELL. I like to think the 100s of movies I watch every year has lead me to be a pretty astute filmgoer, but I walked out of this wondering what the hell even happened? The entire film is a two and a half hour game of catch-up. Meaning, from scene one, I found myself spending every subsequent scene in the film figuring out in my head what happened in the previous scene. Which, essentially overlapped into every proceeding scene for the remainder of the film, so, that when the credits rolled, my head was spinning. My brain felt like it was on a treadmill the entire film, and that treadmill was on high even for hours after the film was over. Imagine trying to solve a very complicated puzzle that is running away from you the entire time you are attempting to solve it. That's Tenet. Honestly, it gives the film endless rewatchability and opportunities for discussion, which I love. I plan on seeing this film again in IMAX as soon as theaters reopen in Michigan. In the mean time, I will be reading about Tenet and trying to discuss it with whomever I can.
My other complaint lies with the characters in this film, or the lack of characters. The characters are essentially vessels to propel along and explain the plot. They really don't matter much at all. Which is unfortunate. I am someone who goes into a film wanting to care about and invest in the characters. Sadly, there is very little in the way of character development in this film. It is apparent that Nolan was very excited about this wild idea he had about time, and he was fully committed to spending the entirety of the film exploring this wild idea. Even the dialogue is almost entirely exposition and explanations, which still often left me more confused.
If you took the time to read my review, thank you! But, I just want to add, I believe Nolan is one of the greatest blockbuster filmmakers of all time. No filmmakers are given the amount of money he is to make original projects, nor the level of creative freedom he is given over and over. It is truly amazing, and I love that we have him and his films. I love that he is allowed to create these original, entertaining, absurd, epic, original films. People describe them as arthouse blockbusters, and I don't necessarily subscribe to that because I believe that his blockbusters should be the high standard all big-budget films strive to achieve. Go see Tenet.