Pros: grandiose director’s idea; spectacular scenes without CGI; a scenario built around time inversion; Starring John David Washington; excellent soundtrack, thanks to which the action sequences work effectively Cons: the antagonist’s line pales against the background of the scale of the idea of the film “Tenet” / Tenet
Genre: Action, Thriller, Fantasy
Director Christopher Nolan
Cast: John David Washington (Protagonist), Robert Pattinson (Neil), Kenneth Branagh (Andrei Sator), Elizabeth Debicki (Kat Sator), Dimple Kapadia (Priya), Clémence Poésy (Laura), Himesh Patel (Mahir), Aaron Taylor- Johnson (Ives), Michael Caine (Michael Crosby), etc.
yncopy studios, warner bros.
Year of release 2020
The title of the film can be translated as “Tenet”, but it is better to leave the original title-palindrome. Simply put, you shouldn’t change a word that reads the same in all directions. It is from here that the grandiose idea of Christopher Nolan begins to emerge, who intends to turn the structure of the spy action film upside down. Although, to be honest, the film only seems like a spy movie in a few scenes. Otherwise, Nolan takes a different angle and seems to challenge his past self, trying to prove that Inception and Interstellar are not the end of his beautiful cinematic madness.
“Tenet” begins with a scene in the Kyiv Opera House (it was filmed, alas, not here, but in an abandoned cultural and sports complex in Tallinn). There, during the concert, a special operation takes place, during which the main character loses control over the situation. Defeat becomes a new discovery – he is offered to become an agent of a secret organization that must prevent the death of humanity. This mission can only be accomplished with the help of time inversion technology, which is already being used in the future.
The protagonist played by John David Washington (the son of actor Denzel Washington, whose talent was revealed in the film “BlacKkKlansman”) is no less confused than we are. On the hero’s path, people appear who explain to him the details of further actions, offering to catch bullets with a pistol. About how to show and explain this from a scientific point of view, Christopher Nolan consulted with physicist Kip Thorne, who had already worked with the director on the film “Interstellar.” So in “Tenet,” as expected, the plot is not only complicated, but also heartily flavored with terms. Interest in the film does not fade away; on the contrary, there is a persistent desire to go again, so that, knowing the idea, relax and try to see more details.
Upon first viewing, Tenet keeps the viewer on the edge of their seats. It is not swayed by introductory scenes, but is immediately attacked by a stream of events that rush one after another. Literally in the first minutes, shots begin, which are heard in time with the soundtrack, which causes a very unusual sensation. By the way, the music in the film is pure delight. It was written by Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson (author of the soundtrack to “Black Panther” and the TV series “The Mandalorian”). Göransson began his work before filming began, so his melodies are inextricably linked with the action scenes, edited in a special rhythm. Thanks to experiments with sound (the effect of guitar distortion and even recording Nolan’s heavy breathing into a microphone), loud music instantly creates an emotional response to what is happening.
Speaking of delight, of course, it’s worth moving on to the action scenes of “Tenet,” in which Nolan really went wild. Even if the general fantastic concept seems too sophisticated to some, the hand-to-hand combat that occurs in reverse order, large chases and large-scale explosions is at least very interesting. And just look at the Boeing 747 crash, which the film crew reproduced right at the airport, deciding to abandon computer graphics.
“Tenet” was created for the big screen, so there could be no compromises with it in the format of the premiere on streaming platforms. As with Dunkirk, cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema shot the film with IMAX cameras (this time on 70mm film). So it makes sense to go to cinemas where there is a hall with the appropriate technology. Not only the stunts will delight you, but also the views – the film was filmed in Italy, India, Norway, Denmark, Britain and Estonia.
There are some shortcomings in the film “Tenet”. Oddly enough, this is not an attempt to make the action movie difficult to perceive. Rather, the focus is on the personal life of the antagonist, who in the film becomes the Russian oligarch Sator (played by actor Kenneth Branagh), who oppressively pursues his wife (with this character Elizabeth Debicki gradually comes to the fore). On the one hand, this is good – in a fantastic plot, a real story appears in its own way, which attracts sympathy and temporarily distracts from inversion. But ultimately, the more we learn about Sator, the more disappointing he becomes with his motivations.
The main character, played by John David Washington, on the contrary, evokes sympathy. Interestingly, before John received leading roles in big films, he played professional American football. His sports background was well reflected in his preparation for filming – Washington had to personally participate in the staging of action scenes. The same applied to Robert Pattinson, who was entrusted with driving a car with an IMAX camera installed. Perhaps Nolan’s approach to filming had a good effect on the perception of the characters – the actors are visible in the frame, and not the backs of the stuntmen.
Despite the complexity of the plot, the conclusion about the film “Tenet” is quite simple. Nolan directed another iconic sci-fi action movie with impressive action sequences that, however, are not always easy to keep up with. It is traditional for the director to add theories from physics that change the idea of the reality of the characters. The plot is not one hundred percent perfect, but overall, it’s worth admitting that Nolan again managed to surprise everyone.
To appreciate the full power of Christopher Nolan’s new film, the ideal first viewing of Tenet should be in IMAX.