This is it, folks! We can finally head out of five months of isolation and do certain social activities, such as going to the cineplex – the theater with the biggest screen with the loudest sound – to watch Tenet. Mind you, it might also be the stupidest thing those of us who believe in the danger of COVID and science might do this year. I have to let you know before delving into the subject, that this is not a badge of honor and is in no way a plea for you to see it in cinemas. If you do, and it plays in a place where you feel it’s safe enough, then go for it! Enjoy the mind-boggling, exhilarating ride mask on, sanitized hands, and as far away from others as possible. If not, unfortunately, wait until you can safely do so because the hype has never been “realer.” No small screen, not even your large plasma TV, and certainly no drive-ins, will do Tenet justice. That’s the first thing I can tell you without revealing anything. So without major spoilers and further ado, these are (some) reasons you should watch Tenet (with all necessary precautions!).
So not only is Tenet “Cinema,” but it is a game-changer. Yes, this has been thrown around easily with all the rapid technological advances of this new millennium, especially when it comes to Nolan’s films. Tenet has already been rightfully compared to Inception in this department due to its time-centric plot and mind-altering visuals. To talk about the former would be hard without spoiling a bit of its story or basic tenets (pun intended!). At the same time, this is a movie where no matter how many beans spilled, one would still go home mindblown with 1000 questions for the Reddit-hole, aka a Christopher Nolan film!
The premise is quite “manageable” – at first – and is no secret for anyone who saw the trailer. We follow The Protagonist (John David Washington) as he embarks on a mission to save the world from ending, which involves international espionage, lots of action, and weird futuristic science. As many suspected, time is of the essence here. After all, it is the director’s trademark MO: messing with time (and minds). The film is a fine blend of his cinematic inspirations and appreciation for a good action-spy movie. Some have likened the film to James Bond, but it’s miles away unless every project involving gadgets, slick suits, fast cars, sidekicks, and slender women in paradisiac locations is said to draw from the 007 franchise. To be honest, Tenet‘s action scenes were so loud, impressive, and memorable with such fast and furious stunts that it brought to mind a certain billion-dollar car-centric franchise a few times, in a good way.
“…embarks on a mission to save the world from ending, which involves international espionage, lots of action, and weird futuristic science.”
In short, the only acceptable comparison that properly gives a general idea of what Tenet “feels” like is Inception, as they’re sort of spiritual brothers. It is all about our perception of time, energy, thermodynamics, causes & consequences, and vice versa. And, maybe it is simply the filmmaker’s answer to the riddle ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ So there’s a good dose of science—more or less credible—and some mumbo-jumbo that will make one scratch their head constantly, but the film is not here to give you time to think. It wants you to go with the flow and think about it later. This works well, and one should not feel left behind, thanks to the incessant pursuit of topping what came before.
Tenet cost a lot of money as it faithfully brings the masterful script and unaltered directorial vision to life. Everything is so grand and impressive, the likes of which have never been seen before (and we watch many movies! So maybe, it is due to the forced half-year watching things on small screens to bend the curve, but still). Most effects were practical, from a plane crash to car chases with topnotch stunt drivers, to all the cast gymnastics acting in reverse. This is one of the most expensive sci-fi movies ever made… and it stars a Black protagonist. This doesn’t happen every day. In this grim and violent time, this might not change anything or sadly stop or invert bullets, but it is food for thought.
One cannot talk about Tenet without talking about John David Washington. There’s no denying that he’s proven his talents in titles such as BlacKkKlansman. But for those of us who watched him evolve his athletic and acting skills in Ballers, Tenet will consolidate the idea. With this Oscar-worthy performance, he is now a certified leading star. Washinton’s physicality must be one reason he was the right choice for this role as it made everything more believable. He is one of the greatest actors of his generation along with the Adam Drivers and such. Talking about his generation, what elevates our protagonist’s charismatic turn, and the movie as a whole, is the connection and chemistry he shares with his enigmatic co-star Robert Pattinson.
Likewise, Pattison has nothing to prove thanks to all the bold choices he made in his lustrous career. But yet again, a year after his nightmare-inducing role in The Lighthouse, he demonstrates that he’s not afraid of going wild, weird, or rogue. It was strangely refreshing to see how cool and cheeky his character was. The dude is fashionable, a smooth operator, being (almost) the comedic levity here. The amazing bond their characters share grounds things on the human level. It should be mentioned that all supporting players were up to their tasks, notably, Kenneth Branagh as the villain. Although, over the top, because people playing Russian baddies tend to do that, he had the right intensity and was quite frightening.
"…will stay with you forever...one that will tempt you to revisit it in part or as a whole..."