Movie Review – Tenet – Christopher Nolan – Another mindbender but confused cinema!
My Rating 3 out of 5
Plot Summary – Tenet
Christopher Nolan starts with the mind-games right from naming his latest movie – Tenet is a palindrome, as you may have already noticed. The underlying story is a much rehashed theme – Time Travel, from the future into the past, which is the present! Though there are classic Nolan-esque touches, it is essentially an action thriller, with the time travel twist.
A CIA operator known as The Protagonist (John David Washington) is recruited by an Organisation called Tenet to prevent World War III, which is set to happen in the future and is being facilitated in the present by a Russian Oligarch, Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). I’ve simplified this part for you, because for most viewers like me, it’ll possibly take two viewings to get it! In the mix is also Neil (Robert Pattinson), Cosby (Michael Caine), Priya (Dimple Kapadia), Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) and Barbara (Clémence Poésy) among many others.
Barbara, a scientist The Protagonist meets early on in the movie tries to explain the founding block behind the concept of Tenet – When we experience reality, we see objects and their entropy as they move forward in time. However, objects in which their material has been inverted, cause them to move backward through time. This is demonstrated in the movie when Washington shoots with an empty gun, but the target is hit with a bullet. Barbara explains that in inversion, he’s catching the bullet, not shooting it! What if now the gun is replaced by an inverted nuclear weapon? That is the World War III which The Protagonist and Tenet is trying to prevent.
Andrei Sator: How would you like to die?
The Protagonist: Old.
Andrei Sator: You chose the wrong profession.From the film Tenet
Andrei Sator‘s wife, Kat, the very tall and thin Elizabeth Debicki, is reduced to playing the ‘damsel in distress’ – getting beaten up by her abusive husband and pleading to get custody of their son, Max. Dimple Kapadia, on the other hand, plays the role of a strong woman, Priya Singh, whose husband Sanjay (Denzil Smith), is just a front of an Arms dealer. There’s the charismatic Robert Pattinson as a super spy, who’s mature rendition of the role is worth paying a pretty penny for. Michael Caine‘s towering screen presence (even when he’s seated at a table) is a soothing balm.
For a movie trying very hard to give a complicated twist to a sci-fi action flick, Tenet fails to logically explain the concept to an extent understandable by the larger audience, but then Christopher Nolan (of the Inception fame) has always toyed with the audience’s IQ, leaving most baffled with only one viewing of his movies. The scientific concept of inverted entropy is made to sound like one coming from an Avengers flick, as in its thinness of material, and not any profound scientific research.
Conclusion – Tenet
Overall, this is far from Nolan’s best and not his worst either. But it does not live up to the over-hyped sensationalism preceding the release of the film. The cinematography is fantastic, the music is haunting and even inverted in places. The action scenes are brilliant, and given Nolan’s known antipathy for CGI, are human driven, which gives a good sense of reality to them. Of the acting by the lead characters, John David Washington, looks a little subdued but presents the confusion and vulnerability of somebody faced with the stupendous unknown, remarkably well. Kenneth Branagh is suitably evil, with perfect English in a Russian accent. But for me, the pick is Robert Pattinson, with a ‘Master’s in Physics’!
This takes place all over the world, literally, from Tallinn, Estonia to Italy, Mumbai, Kiev, US and a few more in between. By the time this 150 minute movie winds down, you would have seen cars moving backwards, ships sailing backwards, explosions shrinking back into the ground, one part of the army going forward in time and another going back! And if by now you’re not thoroughly confused, then either you’d gone to sleep or you think exactly like Christopher Nolan!!
Like all his other films, this will make a little more sense with multiple viewings but will not get better cinematically than it already is, because the plot is thin on substance. The science nearly implausible, as yet! But in the future? Not even Christopher Nolan seems to be sure enough…
Neil: I’ll see you in the beginning, friend.Poignant lines from Tenet
*I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this review, do keep watching this space for more!*