“Tenet” is one of the few new movies out in theatres right now and it’s a wild ride. However, that’s not exactly a good thing for your head.
The film, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, stars John David Washington as “The Protagonist,” a literal protagonist in the story and a CIA operative who discovers that there is a material that can move objects backwards through time, referred to as “inverting” the material and has to work together with Neil, played by Robert Pattinson, to stop the annihilation of the past by an attacker from the future.
The film stars an all-star cast and to be perfectly honest, that’s one of the film’s saving graces. John David Washington while not new to film by any means has a particularly strong role in this and it is deserved. He carries the film with a debonair attitude that is reminiscent of James Bond and it should also be said that he’s really the only character in the movie that we can ever understand what he is saying save for Pattinson. That’s not really a measure of the intelligibility of some of the more exotic accents in the film as it is a measure of the sound design. Washington’s voice cuts through most of the film’s poor sound design and helps take the audience along on the twisted ride. In addition to Washington, Pattinson plays the role of a guide for The Protagonist, leading him through a rough and familiar world. Neil’s soft demure British accent is quite good at this for the audience because they know to trust him.
We do have to talk about the large backwards-through-time-moving elephant in the room. The film’s premise is quite fascinating. Fighting an enemy that moves backwards through time is kind of interesting, but the logistics of this don’t make any sense. How can one ever expect to win a fight with an enemy that has already experienced the fight? What can be changed if one would hope to win? If there can be any change made, what would that do to the original perception of the fight on both ends? There are so many unanswered questions in a movie that claims to have a deep understanding of time and how it works. We as human beings cannot perceive the passage of time backwards the way that the characters in the film clearly do. There is a scene where two characters are having a conversation on different sides of the direction of time by recording what the other person says and playing it backwards or forwards depending on the character. They have a normal coherent conversation this way and they perceive it normally even though by the rules of the movie, one would hear the conversation going forward and the other would hear it backwards. There are few things worse than a movie that doesn’t follow its own imaginary rules.
Christopher Nolan is a decent director. However, he is not this generation’s Martin Scorsese. His plot for this movie is beyond convoluted like most time-related movies are. His visuals and ability to spend money on a film that could have easily done with a much cheaper budget are not understated in the movie. “Tenet” receives a B rating.