Christopher Nolan’s Tenet: ‘A Gigantic Puzzle of a Film’

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Local resident and film enthusiast Paul Toomer reviews Christopher Nolan’s new film, Tenet, after returning to the cinema for the first time since lockdown.

Ever since his debut in 2000 with Memento, Christopher Nolan has sought to test his audience with unique storytelling and innovative special effects.

Now Nolan’s new $200 million movie Tenet has arrived on the screen. Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki, even before lockdown there was a great deal of anticipation surrounding this sci-fi thriller. Now as people return to cinemas the industry are hoping his blockbuster will kickstart their business.

Wow, this is a must see chaps: a gigantic puzzle of a film that will need repeat viewings to get close to any level of understanding, this is another script from Nolan with an original concept and real vision.

The movie is James Bond meets Jason Bourne. On steroids. With a bolt-on turbo charger.

But what the hell is actually going on?

After 15 minutes I lean over to my wife and ask if she knows. Her reply is a straight ‘no’, but her eyes are glued to the screen. Things happen so fast from the start that you are taken a little by surprise, but I think that’s Nolan’s intention and he wants the viewer to be confused. It does not detract from the story though. You can sit back and let it all unfold in front of you, backwards and forwards. The film is littered with cleverly placed clues to explain and enhance the plot and many of these come together to splendid effect by the end, whereas others are harder to reconcile.

The music is composed by Ludwig Göransson and creates super high levels of tension and foreboding. There are great performances from all the leads, particularly Branagh and Washington (an actor to look out for).

This was the first time I have been to the cinema since lockdown and although masks were required most people had discarded them by the time they got to their seats. The cinema was relatively quiet and so felt safe enough, but enough people were present to create the shared cinematic atmosphere.

One criticism is that I would have liked the violence to be more realistic. As a 12A there is a lack of blood and gore and in some scenes where there is heavy exchange of gun fire with automatic weapons, it reminded me of an episode of The A-Team.

That said, I loved Tenet and am still trying to piece it together in my head 24 hours later. This film demands repeat viewings and I will be watching this again for sure.


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