HOLLYWOOD—Rarely do movies leave me speechless, but it seems every time I watch a Christopher Nolan film I feel like I’m in another universe. It started with “Memento,” I adored “Insomnia,” “The Dark Knight” left me wowed, “Interstellar” was epic, and “Dunkirk” was exhilarating as hell. Nolan knows what he is doing behind the camera and when it comes to crafting an original story.
This brings me to the biggest movie I had been waiting for all summer, “Tenet” and let me just say the movie does not disappoint one bit. Mark my words you will NEVER see a movie like this ever again, and that’s something to toot your horn with. This movie is visually stunning and there is a big reason I say that because it feels like an evolution in the technical world of filmmaking. I was just watching “The Matrix” over the weekend, and “Tenet” reminded me how that movie was a spectacle when it was released.
Here’s something I want to clarify about this latest flick from Nolan: it messes with the mind and it requires focus or you will feel a bit lost with what is going on. This is an espionage thriller where the fate of the world is at risk. It’s a different angle from Nolan because all his films have similar themes in my opinion that take a look at the inner workings of the mind. What makes people tick? How do they find purpose and ultimately what they do once they find that purpose?
“Tenet” is a high-stakes adventure and it kicks off with an opening sequence that sets the stage for the narrative the rest of the film. John David Washington stars as The Protagonist, yes, that is his name America, and he’s a CIA agent tasked with ensuring the survival of the human. This is a meaty role for Washington, who really sinks his teeth into his performance. It is quite layered, yet nuanced at the same time and provides a vivid picture of this character for the audience. You don’t just see The Protagonist and immediately know what he is all about.
After being captured by Russian mercenaries, The Protagonist finds himself working for an organization known as ‘Tenet’ that is tasked with saving the human race. He learns from a scientist, Barbara (Clemence Poesy) that objects can operate in an inverted world. Let me explain this because this is where the movie can be twisty. There are things that transpire where it feels things have transpired in rewind, but that is not the case. The action is actually taking place, but in an inverted atmosphere. Seeing a gun discharged in reverse, a fight sequence that transpires in a way that makes no sense, but it’s awesome to see on the big screen. In simple terms, people are acting and behaving in reverse, but they are doing it intentionally.
This is a movie that NEEDS to be seen on the big screen, seeing it at home, on your cell phone or tablet does not do it any justice, not a single bit. Things are moving inverted in time as the future flashes in our eyes and it’s not something I’ve ever seen on the big screen before. This ultimately leads to the big bad of the movie in Andrei Sator portrayed with perfection by Kenneth Branagh. Branagh is exceptional in this role as the villain of the flick, who has a calm approach to his wicked machinations.
It is NOT over-the-top and that is something I so appreciated as a moviegoer. He’s calculated and that makes him frightening to the core if you ask me. His relationship with his wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) is so eye-opening. He loves her, he hates her and when he hates her he goes to extremes to prove a point. Kat is a tortured soul and you can see it in her eyes and it only dictates her actions as the movie reaches its climax. Robert Pattison also delivers solid work as Neil, The Protagonist’s handler who is his aide and watcher people. It is a nice change to see Pattinson take on more challenging roles in his career showcasing his acting talents.
Without spoiling too much, The Protagonist’s journey is to collect a series of artifacts that lead to an ‘Algorithm’ that can control an inverted world that unleashes all sorts of chaos. There is a high-speed inverted chase that is epic to watch it will leave you speechless when you witness it. It’s a masterclass of directing, tension and action that you’ve never seen before on the screen. “Tenet” is so mind-bending, I didn’t see this movie once, I saw it twice, because I truly wanted to understand WHAT I was witnessing and wanted to have a clear depiction of everything that transpired in the film before writing this review.
You absolutely have to suspend reality and everything you know while watching this movie. It does not always make complete sense, but once you start to connect the dots it makes sense and you have a lot more clarity to the awesomeness this movie delivers. Once again Nolan proves he is a masterclass when it comes to storytelling and his capabilities behind the camera to constantly deliver things to the audience we have never seen. If you want originality, look no further than “Tenet” people.