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John David Washington in Tenet (2020)Review

Tenet (Action, Sci-Fi) (2020)


Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Christopher Nolan

Stars: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh

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In the world of espionage, an unnamed CIA operative finds himself working for an organization called Tenet. It’s his task to find the origin of mysterious ammunition supposedly from the future and stop a third world war from ever happening.

If that summary sounds vague and confusing, that’s because it is, and intentionally so. Tenet isn’t easy to grasp; it’s complex not only due to time travel being one of the focuses but also the foreign themes and complex script. Tenet is a movie with a steep curve, and you’ll need to focus and perhaps use subtitles.

It’s recommendable to take Tenet for multiple spins to truly solve the puzzle, even if you understand everything in your first viewing, it’s good to check again and go through the scenes with the gained knowledge and exposure to the plot. There is a loop throughout the film revisiting scenes and breaking them down in a cinematic way both the way the movie flows and the depth of a relatively straight forward mission is a testament to the brilliant yet insane mind of Christopher Nolan, while Tenet might not be perfect or as good as some of Nolan’s other work it’s certainly a great effort.

Casting is very well done with John David Washington playing an at times emotionally withdrawn character with copious amounts of depth, Robert Pattinson once again shows he’s ready to stop sparkling and show everyone that wasn’t interested in the Twilight saga that he is indeed an outstanding actor. Other than the acting performances, there is an array of practical effects opting out of a lot of post-production and CGI. Nolan is quite notorious for doing so much practically, and it makes the scenes, like mentioned flow very well but at the same time feel realistic despite the intricate and sometimes confusing plot. Everything from the stunts to the fight choreography is very well done, particularly a specific fight scene in a kitchen just hits all the marks.

After seeing the entire action-packed spectacle that is Tenet it was very notable that there are many instances of time being skipped, and not from a storyline point of view, it just cuts somewhat to directly to the important scenes, which feels a little bit like a copout serving the benefit of less needing to be explained or fit into the narrative. That said, the movie is 2 hours and 30 minutes, so it is very understandable that this decision was taken nonetheless. Besides that though, I already advised turning on subtitles, one of the main reasons is because the soundtrack was overly loud and easily the worst part of the movie for me, it does relatively fit with Nolan’s style, it’s bombastic and spectacular at points but just outright bothersome most of the time as it seems to be covering the entire movie even making some dialogue hard to hear as if the story wasn’t difficult enough to understand in the first place this creates a more oppressive feeling more than a satisfying one.

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While perhaps not being one of Nolan’s best, Tenet certainly stands out as a bombastic and compelling experience.