Time doesn’t really make much sense. We simplify it and view it as a line that only moves forward, but many scientists studying time see it in a much different way. It flows forward, backwards and all around us in ways that are almost impossible to understand. Similarly, writer/director Christopher Nolan’s new film “Tenet” doesn’t make much sense either, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time.
After a CIA mission goes awry, an agent known only as “The Protagonist” takes a cyanide pill in order to prevent enemy agents from getting information from him. Instead of dying, he wakes form a medically induced coma and is informed that the mission was a test. He is now part of a group known as “Tenet,” an agency dedicated to saving the world from items that are being sent from the future with deadly intent.
I struggled for longer than necessary trying to sum up the plot of “Tenet” in one paragraph. Honestly, the film can get so complicated that I struggle to believe that anyone watching could pick up on the entirety of the plot. For most of “Tenet,” however, all you need to know is that bad guys from the future are sending bad things to the past and the good guys have to stop it.
While I can get behind high concept science fiction, I question the point of it all if the audience can’t figure out what is happen for 70 percent of your film. Maybe I’m just too stupid to understand “Tenet,” but I had to talk things out with others who saw the film and read about it online to get anything more than a slight understanding of the plot, which I can’t say is a good thing.
“Tenet” may just be the best-looking film I have ever seen. Nolan and Hoyte van Hoytema, the film’s cinematographer, create some of the most visually pleasing scenes ever put to film. Each location the main cast visits manages to be visually distinct and impressive while sticking to the same style, making each new shot feel better than the last.
By incorporating the concept of inverted time, Nolan is able to create action in a way that I have never seen before. Though the film is most definitely littered with CGI, none of it is noticeable, making it seem like the filmmakers actually figured out how to makes time flow in reverse. “Tenet” is absolutely worth seeing for its action alone, especially on an IMAX screen.
Though I may not have understood what was happening in “Tenet” more often than not, I am still able to acknowledge the acting chops of everyone in the film. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson lead the cast, brilliantly conveying some of the most intense emotions of their careers. There isn’t a single bad performance in this film, which is impressive considering some of the complicated lines almost every actor is forced to spout out at one time or another.
While “Tenet” may not have been the next great science fiction film I was hoping it would be, it still managed to be entertaining for the bulk of its 150-minute runtime. If you want to see some of the best action in cinematic history, “Tenet” is definitely worth your time, but be prepared to walk out of the theater with more questions in your head than answers.