Movie Review: Tenet

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kenneth Branagh

Runtime: 150 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 (For intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language.)

This week’s review may be the hardest one I’ve written. We’ve never had a film where in order to understand this story and the plot dynamics I would have to spoil twists and crucial moments in this film. I don’t want to do that! I’ll do my best to tip-toe around a complex, deep, and ever-changing story. Before we get into the meat of the review I want to discuss why this film is SO important. Tenet has been touted as the film to “save Hollywood.” It still feels strange to me to be talking about a global pandemic. I wish more than anything we were living our normal lives. Not thinking to yourself if you have your mask before you leave your house. Keeping distance. Missing family members and missing vacation. Not to mention the people we have lost. My family included. The silver lining in this is we are slowly getting back the things we enjoy. For me, one of which is movies! Where Bill & Ted was a feel-good “let’s believe in ourselves and each other” movie. This film is quite different. As you read this article I’m sure you notice the director’s name: Christopher Nolan. The same director that has put out so many true quality films. The Dark Knight trilogy, Memento, Inception, (I still think the top falls) Dunkirk, Interstellar, The Prestige. SO MANY MODERN CLASSICS. This film would be the first big blockbuster for people worldwide to come out and for theaters to FINALLY start selling more of their awesome popcorn. Another note on this film. I didn’t see it at Portsmouth Cinema. I had an impromptu date night with maybe the only person who LOVES films as much as me. We went to a cinema in Hillsboro, Ohio. (Sorry Portsmouth!) The cool thing about our night and I’m sure it was because we caught it on a Thursday was we were the only two in the theater. Carey and I had a private showing!! This helped because I looked at her maybe 35 times saying, “WHAT IS GOING ON???”

Onto the film.

We open with an undercover mission. The Protagonist (Washington) along with others on his team are at an Opera House to retrieve a spy whose cover is blown. From the jump things get weird. A bullet appears to go back into a gun? Almost as if shooting in reverse? This was my first, “What is happening?” comment.

As far as the plot, I’ll give you a very basic explanation to help you decide if you should see this film. (You should) Essentially, we have a spy thriller that transcends time and normal “rules” for how the world works. Our protagonist (Washington) learns there is a Russian oligarch named Andre Sator (Branagh) and he can “talk” to people through time and his plan will eventually cause WWIII. This may sound very generic to you. I am purposely giving as little plot as I can because the true beauty of this film is learning the complexities and who’s who, and what’s what. The Protagonist joins a mysterious organization named Tenet and plans to stop this madman.

We meet several key characters in this film and each actor excelled in their roles. In my opinion the best of this A-list would be Neil (Pattinson) who plays the Protagonist’s handler. Yes the man who played Edward in Twilight was FANTASTIC. He’s truly a good actor, don’t let the glitter in the sunlight from Twilight fool you. Another crucial cog in this film is Sator’s wife named Kat. (Debicki) She desperately wants away from Sator and plays a crucial role in moments throughout.

That’s all I can give you with plot. If I gave anymore it would be a disservice to what was made for movie goers to enjoy. Are you as confused as I was during the film? More than likely. I will say this. The action is amazing. Nolan crushes it again. I watched a “making-of” after the film and learned the vast majority of action set pieces were actually done. Whether it be a real plane blowing up, being connected to wires as they “fly” up a building, or strange body movements to make it appear as time is shifting. VERY COOL.

The score for this film is also something to take note of. We’ve watched many films together in the last 18 months. Some of these films didn’t use sound/music/score to elevate their film. This film does. Tension is built and taken away, sadness is conveyed with musical notes and action is pushed up a notch at all the right moments with the use of a beautiful composition.

Our rating this week is as complex as the plot. Normally I’d give this a 5 out of 5. I feel seeing this multiple times would make it better and better each time. Once you realize the game and chess pieces it starts to come together. The problem with this is it takes SO LONG to realize what you’re viewing. Several times in the film, the cast tells characters to not “try and understand it, to just go with it”. A tongue-in-cheek moment every time a variation of this was said. I’m giving a star for the acting as its truly top notch, another for the film’s score, and another for the action. I want to give this 5 out of 5 stars but the film is too out there. Carey and I both would consider ourselves movie aficionados, and even we both left there scratching our heads. However if you’re a fan of Nolan films, action blockbusters, or something to make you think then GO SEE THIS FILM. This does deserve to be see on a big screen and right now especially we need to support local businesses. 3 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist