Movie Review: “Tenet” Takes Us Back To The Theater

by Aaron Davidson

It has been seven long months since movie theaters shut down due to COVID-19.

Despite the demands from across the world to put “Tenet” on streaming, Warner Brothers and director Christopher Nolan insisted the movie made its way to the big screen as the first blockbuster after theaters reopened.

I finally made the trip back to the theater this past weekend to check out Tenet. It was weird showing up to a new Christopher Nolan movie on only its 2nd weekend and sitting in such an empty theater. 

Counting my friends and myself, there were only 10 people spread out in this auditorium that typically seats over 200 people. That said, it was nice to feel safe in the theater, and I hope other theaters are taking proper safety measures also. Enough about me, on to the movie:

“Tenet” was a movie experience like I have never experienced before. 

It is bold, action-packed, smart, and without a doubt the most complex movie I’ve ever seen. 

Christopher Nolan is no stranger to high budget, sci-fi action movies. He made, what I consider to be, one of the greatest movies of all time a decade ago in the form of “Inception.” 

Seeing “Inception” for the first time was mind-blowing, it just was unbelievable what Nolan crafted, and I couldn’t imagine him topping that. 

In terms of quality, I don’t think Tenet tops “Inception.” However, in terms of concept and plot, “Tenet” is like “Inception” on steroids.

In “Tenet,” we follow the main character, a secret agent only ever referred to as “The Protagonist” (played expertly by John David Washington), as he goes on an intense time-bending mission to prevent World War 3. 

“Tenet” is like a puzzle that we have to solve along with the main character.

One thing that makes the movie so interesting is that the audience never really gets a concrete answer as to what “Tenet” means. We get a brief idea of what it is, but learning what “Tenet” truly means is part of the puzzle.

To start with the positives, this movie is simply brilliant. 

I don’t think anyone out there other than Nolan could come up with a film like this. The concept of the movie is wild. The way that “Tenet” takes everything we thought we knew about time travel and flips it upside down is outstanding. I love original movies and this is definitely something that has never been done before. 

The action sequences throughout the movie are fantastic. The movie almost feels like Nolan’s take on a James Bond movie for the first hour, and then it spirals into an entirely different film with time-bending action sequences.

The acting in this film is great. As I mentioned before, John David Washington is fantastic as “The Protaganist”, but Robert Pattinson is also great as his accomplice.  Elizabeth Debicki is another stand-out in the film. 

The only problem I have with the movie is that I think it’s greatest strength also ends up hurting it. 

“Tenet” is a very complex film, but I think it ends up going too far with its complexity to the point the movie just becomes confusing. 

For at least 80% of the movie, I honestly had no idea what was happening. You do figure it out more as the movie progresses, but you never get concrete answers which will leave just about everyone confused and wanting a bit more information. 

While I appreciate the complexity of the film, I do wish it had taken a bit more time to explain itself. The confusion became just a bit too much for me by the end of the movie, as I was honestly pretty lost during the third act.

I may be making it sound more negative than it actually is, because that’s really how I felt initially walking out of the movie. I did however wait about 48 hours after watching the movie to write this, and I’m glad I did it.

Now that I have had time to think about it, I understand the movie way more, it’s just a lot to take in initially. 

The biggest compliment I have for “Tenet” is that from the second I walked out of the theater, I couldn’t wait to see it again. It is a movie I imagine will only get better on rewatch. 

If Nolan’s goal was to get people talking and trying to figure out all the pieces to his puzzle, that definitely worked for me. After the movie, my friends and I sat in the parking lot of the theater for 45 minutes just trying to figure out what we had watched and discussing our theories. 

Overall, I think “Tenet” is a really good sci-fi blockbuster with great action sequences and a very complex plot, even if it gets a bit too confusing at times. Even though it doesn’t reach the same heights that other Nolan movies like “Inception,” “The Dark Knight,” or “Interstellar” have, it’s still a movie I can see myself watching several more times and liking more on each rewatch.

I truly haven’t stopped thinking about “Tenet” since I left the theater more than 48 hours ago. 

If you feel safe making the trip back to the movie theater, “Tenet” is definitely worth the watch.

Rating: 8/10

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