Tenet Review

By Diego Caceres, Staff Writer

“I watched a movie at a theater.” That’s something you don’t often hear these days, but I am not deceiving you. I recently had the privilege of watching Tenet at an AMC theater for the first time in what seems like ages. Watching the movie felt like I had been lost at sea for months, finally able to indulge in my first meal. Too bad that meal wasn’t very filling.


Tenet definitely feels like something Christopher Nolan would make. That’s really the best way I can describe this movie. An action-packed, mind-numbing experience centered around one central concept. This movie, in particular, is centered around time. Well, most of his films are, but this one takes the cake.


Throughout the film, The Protagonist (yes, that’s the main character’s “name”) must use time to stop the end of the world or something. His goal isn’t always clear, at least to me it wasn’t. I think that’s mainly due to the layers of exposition dumped onto the audience without a second thought. This is common in most Nolan films, mainly his 2010 film Inception, where characters throw out information left and right, hoping you can still keep up with the ever-growing plot. This time, the exposition isn’t handled as well as his previous works. All of the dialogue is told through characters with no emotional depth while the soundtrack is booming overtop of them. This stems from a larger problem I have with the movie. 


I don’t care.


The characters are so dull and forgettable I wouldn’t care if they died. I’m not a psychopath – the characters just aren’t made for you to get attached to. Nolan uses characters to propel the plot forward, but since that’s their only purpose, they feel disposable. If I don’t care about a single character, I feel detached from what is going on and couldn’t care less if they succeed or not. The fact that the main character doesn’t even have a name is a nail in the coffin. 


The execution of the movie is where the film exceeds, however.


I can just imagine all of the fun Nolan had while filming this ambitious project. I’m not here to spoil anything, but multiple visually striking fight sequences left me thinking, “How did they film that?” One scene, in particular, had two men fighting in a narrow hallway; one was moving forwards in time while the other was going backward. I think I had the intended response: constantly thinking, “Look at that cool thing that just happened!” then going home satisfied with the moviegoing experience. I must admit I’m a sucker for exciting action sequences, but when I left the theater, I realized that was all this movie was.


Tenet is made for multiple viewings. The problem with that is I don’t feel I will gain anything meaningful out of a second viewing. Sure, I might learn a bit more about the plot and catch details I might have missed, but I won’t be gaining any new perspectives or mind-blowing revelations. That’s all this movie is. A fun idea that works really well in the moment. If I were scoring the film off of spectacle, most of Nolan’s films would be a no brainer, but I wasn’t going into this movie just to have my mind blown. Maybe in the future, my opinion will change, and it’ll be my next Inception, but for now, it’ll stay as a 7/10.