Director Christopher Nolan took the risk and pushed for months in uncharted times during the pandemic to have Tenet released to cinemas in states where they are open. This film has a reported budget of $225 million and is ranked as one of the most expensive films in Nolan’s directing life. Tenet is visually enticing throughout its 150 minutes, but the film requires much analytical thinking from its audience over the primary conflicts. Nolan’s directing goes above and beyond with the static audio, and that makes Tenet amazing at various moments, but it also makes the dialogue hard to hear at times. That is why there have been several mentions of audio issues, but it’s ultimately Nolan’s creation of ambience which he uses to carry his audience through the world he creates with his directing.
The film is set in an era of global espionageand Tenet is an unknown organization. A CIA operative without a name is the protagonist played by John David Washington. He is chosen to take part in a global task to prevent an attack potentially as lethal as World War III that may happen in the future. Robert Pattinson plays Neil, the assistant who is helping the Protagonist. The focus of their mission (in terms of espionage and global terror prevention) is to prevent a renegade Russian oligarch with foresight intelligence from starting World War III. The enemy behind this is Andrei Sator, and he is played by Kenneth Branagh. With the futuristic skills of the mysterious organization, the Protagonist and Neil are faced with the challenge of analyzing patterns of events that have happened, and then going back and redoing them, or trying to go back and fix what could potentially do more damage.
In Tenet, the moments which go forward and then reverse provide the element which requires self-analysis for the audience. The missions are mentioned in bits, but then later the missions go on without explanation. That is why viewers need to watch the film carefully to put together the pieces (especially when an event happens and then happens a second time). Some viewers may interpret that this film is similar towards Nolan’s Inception (2010). I believe there are similarities, but Inception’s characters explained the tasks and how to format the missions. In Tenet, the missions just come around with various twists and turns and are then repeated. Nolan makes his audience use their mind more in this film. I found myself excited during much with of the film with the limited explanation of events creating the excitement for me. But then, however, I would find myself contemplating whether a scene had already happened. Given the film involves action after action, I felt it was an intensely thrilling cinematic event. And, seeing it in IMAX made it much more amazing, because this film was shot with IMAX cameras.
Overall, I will give Tenet three stars. However, it is one of those films that you should think carefully before watching. It is a long one, and some people may be uncertain about going back to movie theaters. However, if you are ready to take the chance, Tenet is the film that the world has been waiting for. It may feel different than the other works by Nolan, but not much different technologically given it is just a different approach to an original project.