Taking a chance on Tenet without preparedness other than breaking the Covid-19 lockdown would be unwise. It’s the combination of action and complexity that bedazzles to the point of bewilderment. Definitely some background on the story and ‘culture’ is necessary. It requires the genre initiated – the science fiction slash thriller slash action initiated.
So there’s a mysterious organization called Tenet recruiting an unnamed CIA agent know as The Protagonist (John David Washington) for a global assignment. The Protagonist is drawn into a twilight world of international espionage that extends beyond real time. The mission is to prevent a Russian oligarch called Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) from starting WW3. In order to counteract Sator’s intention, The Protagonist must utilize the phenomenon of ‘the inversion’.
While there are plenty of B grade Sci-fi, Tenet is definitely not one of them and is far more substantial. But perhaps it falls slightly short of former genre milestones – the likes of Blade Runner and The Matrix.
The action sequences do not disappoint. In fact, the best way to describe it would be constant action with the occasional interruption of cryptic dialogue. There are plenty of car pile ups, crashing 747’s and helicopters but Tenet has extra dimension. You find yourself interpreting action, re-action, time dimension and ‘inversion’ with a plot that has wider, destructive implication – that of impending world war. Tenet forever charges forward with great intensity. Director and writer Christopher Nolan has given us a film five years in the making. You could view it numerous times for its layered meaning. The style is reliant on sequential movement and tight editing and if you miss anything you could very well lose the plot and punch a hole in the meaning – the wider implication. But this does not detract from the quality. It’s just this kind of creation.
While challenging at times, Tenet is an example of expensive movie making providing a springboard for the complex and unconventional. While it may not become a cult classic it nonetheless is a sci-fi roller-coaster worth the ride.
Director Christopher Nolan
Writer Cristopher Nolan
Protagonist John David Washington
Kat Elizabeth Debicki
Sator Kenneth Branagh
Neil Robert Pattinson