Daniel Ketchelos – Staff Writer
Christopher Nolan’s latest time-bending film, Tenet, hit the theaters on Sep 3. Featuring brilliant acting, cinematography, and Nolan’s unmatchable storytelling, this is a film not to miss in theaters. Following The Protagonist’s (John David Washington) struggle to contain a world on the brink of World War III, Nolan simultaneously crafts an impeccable story while leaving viewers contemplating the world they live in.
Most notably, Tenet features a plot stationed around the idea of “time-inversion” where objects follow paths opposite to the modern notions of physics. This becomes problematic for The Protagonist as he fights to keep events in the future from happening.
Featuring strong acting, beautiful cinematography, and one of the most cohesive film scores seen in modern films, Nolan’s work should raise some attention. Highlight actors include John David Washington (The Protagonist), Robert Pattinson (Neil), and Kenneth Branagh (Andrei Sator). Washington fits his role as the unnamed CIA operative perfectly. His delivery is striking while remaining subtle and believable. Pattinson also executes a remarkable performance throughout the film. Their on-screen chemistry as Tenet operatives allows the film to move forward without hesitation. In part, Nolan’s excellent screenplay keeps scenes from becoming lackluster, but each actor performs brilliantly. Most notably, five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh creates an unforgettable performance. His role as Andrei Sator, a Russian oligarch with intentions to end the world, gave me chills while I watched his cold-hearted character unfold on screen.
The cinematography matches that of Nolan’s previous work, including Inception and Interstellar, but most striking element of this film was the score. Composed by Ludwig Göransson, Tenet’s score is intentional and compliments the film as any well-composed score should. This score doesn’t scream out “listen to me” while you’re watching but rather acts as a subtle immersive element to keep you engaged with the plot. Specifically, moments of time-inversion are met with reversed guitar notes and symphonic tones. When time is inverted, the score follows which creates a cohesive bond between sight and sound.
If you are a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work, you will find yourself right at home with Tenet. Similar themes of manipulating time and reality that are found within his other works, including Inception and Interstellar, are found within this piece. Like Inception, Tenet features plot devices (time-inversion) to alter one’s sense of reality. Nolan’s task of executing this concept was done masterfully, although it may be a challenge for some viewers to grasp within the first showing.
Despite all the many brilliant nuances of this film, there are a few scenes I found issues with. During one of the more prominent scenes, a complex car chase scene, I felt like I was watching a luxury car commercial unfold in front of me. The Protagonist and Neil are driving down a large interstate in a high-end blue BMW sport sedan. The car itself is not the issue, but rather how it was presented. This sport sedan is presented through multiple angles that felt like the car was being shown off. Also, one shot in this sequence featured the BMW logo in center frame for a few seconds. What drove this home was when Washington’s character said “BMW” multiple times in the following scene. While this isn’t a huge deal, it felt as if I was being forced to watch a product placement for BMW. At some points in this film, I also had a hard time understanding the dialogue. The words themselves are not hard to understand, but rather how they are said. Some words are mumbled leaving the audience confused about what was said by a few characters.
Overall, Tenet left me feeling very satisfied as I walked out of the theater. Featuring a phenomenal storyline with brilliant acting and technical direction, I would recommend spending money on a ticket to view this film in theaters. Tenet is an above-average film for modern releases, and my overall rating would be an 8/10. Do not skip over this film if you are undecided because it is definitely a release not to miss.