Tenet Movie Review: Christopher Nolan film is more complicated than 2020

Movie Name: Tenet

Cast: Dimple Kapadia

Director: Christopher Nolan

There were all sorts of fan theories doing the rounds when news of Christopher Nolan making Tenet trickled on to the internet. The most common one was where it was believed to be a sequel to his 2010 mind-bender, Inception. But as John David Washington told Esquire, “They’re related by marriage.” His words, not ours. “They get together for Thanksgivings, family barbecues…other than that, one lives in Europe, the other one lives in Compton,” Washington went on to say. Walking out of this 150-minute watch, someone who’s seen both can only hope they get together for Christmas if only to exchange notes.

Tenet has an exciting cast, simply by virtue of the fact that neither are Nolan usuals. Except for Michael Caine as Crosby, who is given but one scene. A good-luck charm, one might say. Other than that, there’s John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son, would you believe it?) as the Protagonist, Robert Pattinson as Neil, Elizabeth Debicki as Katherine or Kat, Dimple Kapadia as Priya, among others. As is the norm in Nolan-world, Tenet is non-linear, but unlike time and space in his previous, Interstellar, this one travels back and forth in time alone. Wacky enough? Let’s get in then.

Watch the trailer of Tenet here:

[No spoilers here, this was shown in the trailer]

The CIA has procured certain bullets that seem to be able to travel invertedly and backwards in time and they believe there’s more, and a variety, where this came from. The protagonist must crackdown the weapons dealer who creates and supplies such deadly arms, deadlier than nuclear weapons, that could potentially annihilate the world in the wake of World War III. And thus starts the journey of a spy, with a few allies he finds on the way, to the end. But it is not that simple.

The performances in Tenet are topnotch. And those who might go in with some scepticism especially targeted at Dimple Kapadia, let us tell you her’s is neither a blink-and-you-miss role nor is it that of an expendable sidekick. She holds her own in every scene she is a part of, and frankly, is impressive.

Washington and Pattinson are like Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy of Inception, respectively, and it gives you a sense of familiarity, if not establish a connect. In parts, it may appear as though they’re trying too hard to mirror the Inception duo, but that moment is short-lived and we’re sucked into the narrative quickly enough. Debicki is Marion Cotillard, only taller. Her eyes do the talking for her and they do a brilliant job too. Yet the cast and their performances would add up to nothing if the story of Tenet itself crumbles. And it does. We wish we could go back in time and change that previous sentence.

To be frank, Christopher Nolan goes a bit too far this time, cooking up a complex story about time and the various wrinkles on its fabric. It was almost as if he doesn’t want his audience to understand it, and if one asks too many questions, there is slight condescension waiting for them. We are shut up with ‘Is your head about to explode yet’ like Neil tells the Protagonist, at least thrice in the film.

Perhaps a sci-fi about time travel inside of someone’s consciousness, or of space travel in the fifth dimension is far more believable than that of time travel right in front of you. Tenet, in parts, only ends up seeming dystopian, and that wouldn’t have been a bad thing if that’s what they were going for. They were not, unfortunately.

There were several gapping loopholes too, that is heartbreaking if not criminal in a Nolan movie. For instance, it was established that a person travelling back in time needs a personal oxygen supply. Yet in one crucial scene, Debicki’s Kat goes about stuff without one.

Visually, Tenet is not Interstellar. Yet, there are several stunning frames in this Christopher Nolan film that demand big-screen viewing. Tenet is mounted on a massive budget, and the frames speak of it. Watching it in theatres certainly will add an awe factor. But whether you chose to watch it in theatres or wait for it to release on an OTT platform, one thing’s for sure – Tenet isn’t a one-time watch, for more reasons than Nolan .. err, one. A wrinkle in our psyche, that’s all.

(The writer tweets as @NotThatNairita)

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