Tenet – PG – 2 hr 30 min (IMAX)
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Friday September 4, 2020
Regal 16 Cinemas – Lacey, Washington
#32 new movie seen in theaters in 2020
John David Washington plays a James Bond type character called The Protagonist in a mission to thwart a reverse time travel technology from the hands of an abusive arms dealer. The Protagonist protects the wife of the arms dealer through various means.
Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this technical marvel, and it’s a real spectacle. Bonus points for Nolan shooting surreal scenes of twisting time and space. Literally people, cars, boats moving backwards and at the same time somehow other people moving forward. Just watching this is entertaining, nevermind the story. It’s also kind of jarring as you start to drift from paying attention to the story and watching the special effects.
The opening and closing of the movie are good, but the middle is a bit muddled. We found the whole “inversion” stuff fascinating, but a bit tiresome. This movie is long, but no longer than a typical James Bond movie.
This seems like the type of movie the creators intended to be rewatched, to pick up new things missed, since the speed that almost everything happens is fast. Despite the long run time, a lot of story unfolds. There isn’t much time spent on fleshing out characters, we clearly know pretty much everybody that is good or bad and it’s just what are they doing that we’re focused on.
It seems Nolan spent more time wanting to wow us with visuals and story than developing any real character depth. The visuals are at times stunning, no doubt, especially anything involving inverted time scenes, but is it a bad thing when you are pulled out of a movie and thinking, “how did they shoot that?” I don’t remember my mind lingering that way so often with Star Wars in the 70s, primarily because the story was so irresistible. That’s not the case for Tenet. The story isn’t quite strong enough, I think because of the lack of character depth. A more recent movie, 1917, had me engrossed in the continuous one shot concept, although there were cuts, I didn’t get thrown from that, because the soldiers mission was hard to tear away from. This aspect of filmmaking is, at times, missing from Tenet.
Overall the movie is entertaining. It’s not an amazing watch, other than visually, which if you can see it in IMAX, that’s the ticket to buy. The sound effects are great, sometimes fantastic. The acting is good. I liked Kat, the arms dealer’s wife played by Elizabeth Debicki. Am not that familiar with her in other roles, but she was believable, that she would do just about anything to get away from her abusive husband. Robert Pattinson plays The Protagonist’s handler and his performance was kind of average.
Kara wasn’t as excited about and entertained by the movie. Spy movies are among her least favorite genres and the sci-fi time travel aspect was especially not to her liking. She did appreciate the visuals and you can hear her specific commentary in the just left the theater video embedded above.
There aren’t many new movies to see in the theaters right now — there aren’t many movies like this one, in fact — if you have theaters reopened in your area. Not sure it will be as exciting on a smaller screen, so see it on IMAX when you feel safe enough to do so.
Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️½ (Kara)