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  • RELEASED: 2020
  • RUNTIME: 150 mins
  • WRITTEN BY: Christopher Nolan
  • DIRECTED BY: Christopher Nolan
  • STARRING: John David, Washington Robert, Pattinson Elizabeth, Debicki Kenneth, Branagh Dimple, Kapadia Himesh, Patel Aaron, Taylor-Johnson

This review may contain spoilers.

Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t possibly get any worse, Tenet, of all movies, just had to be a major letdown. For the last two weeks, I had been trying to figure out how to safely see this in theaters until this morning when I said fuck it and decided it was not worth risking my life or my family’s lives to see a movie. So what did I do instead? I committed capital sin, in Nolan’s eyes, and watched a pirated version online and honestly, after having seen it, I’m very glad I didn’t go to the theater cause it would not have been worth the anxiety. Of course, Hoyte pulls through with the cinematography as does Ludwig with the amazing score but this movie is just a complete mess and not in a good way. While the idea of time inversion is really cool, Nolan doesn’t really do much with it. The visual effects are incredible but the action sequences themselves are honestly forgettable and they just don’t hold a candle to Inception. This is partly due to the fact that there’s no character development. Even though all the performances are pretty great, this is a movie populated with dull characters that we don’t have a reason to care about. Nolan’s best films always find a balance between spectacle and emotion. In Inception, we care about Cobb’s mission because of everything he’s been through with his wife. In Interstellar, we care about Cooper’s mission because of his relationship with Murph and we feel that the stakes are real. In this film though, the characters are only used to regurgitate muddled exposition. JDW’s character is literally called The Protagonist. We don’t even know his fucking name. And speaking of stakes, they are never clearly set up until the last act and by that point, there’s still no reason to care. Even Sator’s motivations make no sense. He thinks he’s a God so everyone should die with him?? The point of inverting time is never even fully explained. And for a film that seems so complex on the surface, it’s frustratingly basic for a Nolan film once you deconstruct everything. Nothing all that shocking happens until that twist at the very end which left me feeling dissatisfied. If The Protagonist and Neil had a “beautiful friendship” why was that not a focal point of the story?? That actually would’ve added genuine emotion and something to care about. By the end of this movie, there really isn’t a point. There’s no message, there’s no emotional punchline. There’s nothing to leave you satisfied. It’s honestly ironic that Nolan’s film about time moving backwards is the film that feels like his cinematic prowess is going backwards. Usually his films get better and better or are at least on par with his previous outings but this one just isn’t made with the same precision or  meticulousness of his best work. I’m definitely gonna watch this again when it’s available to rent or at least online in better quality because I definitely think I’ll be able to take it in better.