If there was going to be a film to reboot the movie industry in a post COVID-19 world, it would be Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated global espionage action thriller, Tenet. I’ve been looking forward to this film since its announcement and was even more excited for it to be the first movie to hit cinemas in what feels like forever. We are very lucky here in Western Australia to be among the first to see Tenet as the film’s release staggers around the world.
To be able to understand Tenet you will need to see this film more than once, and probably a few more times after that to grasp all the nitty-gritty magic of Nolan’s craftwork and attention to detail. I like the idea of comparing this movie to a painting; once you see the whole thing, you can sit back and enjoy it. You can’t look at the top corner of a painting and say ‘I know what this is’ or ‘I like this’, but by looking at the entirety of the painting, you can truly appreciate and understand the whole story.
I don’t want to say I’m disappointed, because I know once I understand this film, I will love it. But for now, after one viewing, I’m slightly disappointed. This isn’t because the film is bad—on the contrary, it’s pretty damn amazing and will be a huge standout over the next decade of cinema—but because it made me feel stupid and gave me a headache both during and long after the film’s end.
Tenet doesn’t give you the chance to catch up once. The film continuously throws new ideas, plot twists and mind-boggles at you with no time to take a breath, not even enough time to learn the name of ‘The Protagonist’, which funnily enough is what John David Washington’s character is credited as. My small brain would’ve appreciated a scene that slowed down the pace of the film enough to let me learn more about the ‘inversion’ concept as well as the characters and the mission.
It may just be my commerce degree talking but I’m convinced that Warner Bros. and Nolan made a conscious decision to create something mind-bending as a marketing tactic, aimed at keeping the audience entertained and convincing them to watch the movie in theatres a second time to spend those extra dollars. Personally, I think it worked, because I’m definitely going to see this again with a basic knowledge of the story and hopefully come out with a more complete painting in mind.
Nolan creates a very original idea with ‘time inversion’ and by the films conclusion, leaves a lot of open-ended questions and hints at the possibility of a sequel. Nolan hasn’t done a sequel since The Dark Knight trilogy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a franchise was greenlit with the amount of worldbuilding created in Tenet. It would feel silly not to expand on a large-scale original idea with so much potential for story.
It felt good to be back in a cinema enjoying that first-time-movie magic after so long, but throughout the film I did have difficulty hearing whole sentences, and this was on top of the fact that I was already struggling to understand the movie. At first I thought it might be my ears, then I thought it might be the cinema, but after reading multiple reviews from other people, it’s clear that the film’s score overpowers the dialogue. I somewhat didn’t mind, however, because the score was amazing. It’s still stuck in my head as I’m writing this, it’s so epic and massive and needs to be heard on the best surround-sound system.
I’ve been a fan of John David Washington since he was playing an NFL star in the HBO comedy Ballers alongside Dwayne Johnson. I’m glad he’s been given the chance on the big screen to kickstart his blockbuster career, and I reckon he suits it—cue Hollywood’s next action star. Likewise, 2020 may not be a good year for most but for Robert Pattinson, it’s the best one yet. With the success of the Oscar-nominated indie film The Lighthouse, the recent drop of The Batman trailer and next month’s release of The Devil All the Time on Netflix, the British actor is showing up everywhere. This is awesome for him and important for fans who are fixated on just seeing him as Edward Cullen from Twilight, which was now over ten years ago.
As always with big blockbusters, this needs to be seen on the biggest screen there is for the best experience. Still, I can’t wait for the home release so I can chuck on the subtitles and pause the film to get my head around it. Go and see Tenet and support your local theatres safely.