ZombieTrex’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ll be honest, before I saw Tenet, I was really hoping that I'd be able to say afterwards, “What are y’all talking about? This film isn’t too hard to understand!”
But it is.
It is very hard to understand.
I was able to grasp the whole inversion concept around the halfway point, and I’ve gotta say, once I figured it out, it was a really neat premise. But I feel like I should have figured out how it works earlier in the movie. I don’t know if that was intentional, or I just missed a detail from the first half that would allow me to figure it out sooner. Conversely, Inception is another Nolan film with a fun, yet complex sci-fi concept, but how it works is explained much more clearly and much earlier in the film, and the rest of the movie is just the characters interacting with this concept. The concept in Tenet is made clear much later, and saying that it’s “clear” is being generous.
Even beyond all the sci-fi stuff, the plot itself and how certain characters and macguffins fit into it are not explained all that well. I’m still a little confused as to why the painting is here and why it’s relevant. The villain's plan was something that I was still trying to figure out after I had left the theater. And there’s way more stuff that I won’t touch on for spoiler’s sake. I was wondering whether my confusion over the film was my fault or the movie’s. But my family, whom I saw it with, were just as confused as I was. It seems to be the same consensus online, with people still trying to decipher the plot. In my opinion, this film is too overly complicated, and it either needed to explain things better, or simplify certain aspects.
I know that, from what I said above, it must seem like I really hate Tenet. But you know what? I still liked it overall. Because despite all the story issues, the movie still delivers in a lot of other areas. The action is really well-done and it plays with the inversion concept in clever ways. The characters were enjoyable, though nothing incredible by any means. I admire the film’s visuals, and knowing that no CGI was used at any point makes things that much more impressive. Like I said above, the actual concept itself, once I understood it, was really fun. And what parts of the story that I did understand, I quite enjoyed. I think there is a decent story here, but the execution is what ruins it.
So did Tenet live up to its immense hype? In all honesty, probably not. Many accused Inception of being too overly complicated for its own, but I personally found that movie easy enough to follow along with. Tenet, on the other hand, is definitely way too complex, and I truly don’t think it had to be this way. But is Tenet still a good movie? Yeah, I’d say so. At the end of the day, it’s still Christopher Nolan, an exemplary film maker that tries his hardest to deliver a great movie every time. And while not all of his efforts paid off here, especially in regards to the story, the filmmaking besides that is still quite well done. I’ve done some reading online, and I think I understand the plot better now. Obviously, I shouldn’t have to do this, but I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Tenet again with a new perspective on the film. I’d recommend this one, as long as you don’t go in expecting to understand everything (and to some, it might not be worth going to theaters in times like this, which I completely understand).