Christopher Nolan’s Tenet show’s how he is not only a master of suspense, but also a genius of modern science fiction. This spy-thriller-twisty-turny story will probably end up as my favourite of the year, and not just because the cinemas have been shut.
The Plot in a Nutshell
The Protagonist (John David Washington) has to save the world, with the help of Neil (Robert Pattinson). His adversary is Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) and Anderi’s wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) is suffering under is emotional, physical and mental abuse.
Working for a top-secret programme, Tenet, The Protagonist has to navigate mind-bending new technology that could end the world at the push of a button and must use the time to win.
And that’s all I’m going to tell you.
I was lucky enough to see the first seven minutes of Tenet last December and it was one of the most TENSE seven minutes of my life. I’ve been hyped for this ever since and have seen the last four Nolans at the BFI IMAX, suffice to say, I’m a fan.
Fan, or not, Tenet is a cinematic masterpiece. Nolan takes a classic “spy” plot (spy needs to save the world from dislikable antagonist) and adds a time twisty, Nolanesque spin. I’ve heard some people say they don’t understand the plot, even after seeing the whole film, and that’s ok, but Nolan’s never been one to question the intelligence of his audience. My advise for those who have this problem would be to let the film wash over you, don’t beat yourself up, and watch it again later.
Personally, I loved the sci-fi elements in Tenet. I won’t spoil it for you, but there is a moment when the movie shifts from a sort of “Bond” movie to a science-fiction thriller, similar to as in Interstellar and even Inception (though of course it comes really early in Inception). In that moment the whole film, the premise, the questions I had, it all fell into place – don’t give up on Tenet just before you hit this moment, even if you’re feeling confused.
I’ve also heard the phrase “less is more” be batted around. I don’t know if this is a complement of a detriment. In a lot of ways Tenet is “less” complex than (say) Inception, it has less characters and less layers. However, we know from past stories, Nolan likes to play with time (think, Momento) and this can get confusing. However, which elements someone would strip… I’m really unsure about, every part of this film comes together beautifully.
John David Washington is so so good as The Protagonist, his character knows he is the main character in this story, he is hell-bent on completing his task, whatever the cost, but doesn’t lost sight of saving things that are important to him as a human being. Kenneth Branagh is a fantastic villain, I hated him on a deep level. He made me fear for Elizabeth Debicki and allows this human connection into an otherwise action-packed film. I also want to give a big shout out to Pattinson for being so smooth and so freakin’ attractive. Lastly, I want to say that Tenet is so funny, the sci-fi elements add this humour that had the whole cinema giggling and some of the dialogue, particularly from Pattinson, also helped to take the edge off.
The music (by Ludwig Göransson) added a layer of tense beauty. The sound pulsed though every scene, making my heart beat to the tempo of the scene. Also there are some scenes that have huge elements to them (think explosions) and I would love to know how they shot these – they were some of the most immense scenes I’ve ever seen on screen.
I’d love to hear everyone else’s views too, so please do tweet me at katywritesabout.