Tenet ★★

My first theater experience in over 6 months, and I found it to be mostly a disappointment. While it is another bold and ambitious spectacle from Nolan, it never comes together like his other films. It desperately tries to copy/paste the style and tone from Inception, applying it to a new concept, and it just doesn’t work.

There’s a difference between being loud and being unnecessarily noisy. Dunkirk is (quite effectively) the former, and this is the latter. The sound mixing is horrendous, and felt so muddled and disorienting. Nolan almost seems to do this intentionally. Perhaps he realized his palindrome gimmick wasn’t fully working, so he turned the dial up to 11 at ALL TIMES to mask this. My ears were upset by this decision. 

The big visual sequences, while sometimes impressive, aren’t enough to keep you truly invested. After awhile, it actually feels repetitive and boring. It seems Nolan thought he could just throw attractive characters into constantly changing, grandiose set pieces, dizzying the audience enough to make them mistakenly feel impressed. 

It’s not impossible to wrap your mind around what’s happening, at least enough to follow along. However, It’s much harder to understand why you should care about the characters or what happens to them. We are given no real depth or source of motivation for any of them. The writing leaves a lot to be desired, and led to a couple moments of unintentional comedy, at very inopportune times. 

To end on a positive note, I did appreciate some aspects of this. Robert Pattinson was constantly interesting despite his lack of character depth to work with. John David Washington was also pretty good, demonstrating good chemistry with everyone on screen. It’s still a film worth seeing, even though it comes up short. I just wish the boldness and ambition had resulted in a better, more fully realized film.

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