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Saturday, October 03, 2020

Review, kinda, of TENET

There is likely no disputing that Christopher Nolan is king of high-concept cinema.  With Tenet I am wondering if maybe he went for TOO high-concept.  It was ten years ago this summer that Nolan gave us Inception: a movie that I have watched many times since and continues to enthrall.

Tenet however, I might watch once or twice again.  Three times tops.  Just enough to try to figure out what the heck is going on.  Because there is some Grade-A gray matter warping at work in this movie.  The publicity for it has been clear that it's NOT a film about time travel.  Instead it's about "inversion".  Reversing the entropy of an object - or people - so that it appears that they are going backward when instead from the perspective of the object... say, a bullet... time is progressing forward linearly.  And I can understand that much.  But more exposition would have been appreciated.

It would have also helped matters if the sound wasn't overwhelming the spoken dialogue.  Straining to make out what the characters were saying became an exercise for the eardrum.  Was it deliberate?  I mean, it's a pretty discombobulated plot to follow along as it is.  Something about arms dealers and a fraudulent Goya drawing.  Distracting it with sound and fury just made things worse, intentionally or not.

But if Tenet has something going for it, it's absolutely the visual effects.  Nolan and his crew used a real Boeing 747 for this movie.  And the battle scene toward the end is incredible to behold if also bewildering to keep up with.  It's apparent that Tenet's production team went for practical effects whenever and wherever possible... and that's something I can definitely approve of.

I will give Tenet a score of 7 out of 10.  For comparison's sake I would give Inception a 9.5 out of 10.  Tenet is a strong effort from Christopher Nolan.  Unfortunately this time he came short of making the mark.  For further comparison's sake, a perfect 10 of a time-centric movie is the 2004 film Primer.  Produced for a miniscule seven grand, Primer proves that a solid high-concept movie can be made without a major studio backing it with a few hundred million dollars.


GDS said...

Go to Reddit and look for the Tenet subreddit. People have been posting diagrams of what happens when and where.

Chris Knight said...

Thanks. I found what you're talking about and to be honest I'm confused as ever :-/

But to my credit I had no problem at all following Inception :-)

(And I'll be honest again: I was able to follow Primer the first time watching it. Though I had to watch it again to make sure I "got it" right :-P )