Director Christopher Nolan (Inception) has always wanted to make a James Bond-type spy thriller. We saw him toy with the idea in The Dark Knight Rises, and finally this year, a year riddled with issues, Tenet, Nolan's take on a James Bond story, comes to the theaters during a crazy time in the world.
Tenet is a very hard film to define (which is why it is so intriguing). It is a mixture of a spy thriller, with science-fiction elements, where our protagonist is trying to save the world from its final war, World War III. Just from the intriguing plot alone, and having one of the best directors of our time, Tenet would be worthwhile but as a bonus, it offers an amazing cast including John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), Elizabeth Debicki (Widows) and Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express).
Tenet has had a very rough ride to the silver screen. First Christopher Nolan took five years writing it, then a very long production schedule around the world (as Nolan likes to shoot real visuals and not rely on computerized special effects) delayed to final product even more. And, of course, there was 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Warner Bros stood fast against releasing it directly to streaming channels so they kept on moving around the date and finally decided, even though the pandemic is still going on, to release it internationally last week and this weekend in the United States, pending local laws on movie theaters. However, the most satisfying part of the ride is that when it finally did make it to screens, including IMAX on forty reels that weighed 90lbs each, it was a mind-blowing ride that will stay in one's head for days after (and will long be studied in film history classes across the globe).
It is very hard for a film to succeed in every possible aspect of storytelling, but Tenet provides that for the viewer. While half the fun of the moving is not knowing the plot when you start watching it, It is one of Nolan's best scripts in a long time, with many twists and turns that keep you guessing even after the credits roll (I will still need a few more viewings to fully grasp everything going on.)
John David Washington is an actor to be watched more in the future. Carrying most of Tenet on his back, Washington is charismatic, physically daring, and an individual who always has the wheels turning in his head. His chemistry with Pattinson, Debicki, Branagh is undeniable and makes the film flow so much better. Pattinson continues to prove he is more than a vampire that glistens in the sunlight, while Debicki demonstrates that she deserves to be a leading lady more often. Meanwhile, Branagh pulls off a very memorable villain. Then here is the real kicker...most of them did all their own stunts in the film.
With plenty of action and explosions (and really amazing special effect) the beauty of the movie is that all of the scenes, including a 747 airplane explosion, were mostly done practically, on set, with the actors. A lot of scenes were shot forwards and backwards, even having the actors saying they're dialog backwards. There is only a total of 280 VFX shots in the film making it one of the lowest in modern history (even less than today's comedies).
While Nolan usually uses Hans Zimmer (The Man of Steel) to compose his films, Zimmer was unfortunately tied up with Dune, so Nolan went with the next best thing - Academy Award-winning composer, Ludwig Göransson, who is known for his amazing work on The Black Panther film. His soundtrack, infused with a great new song by Travis Scott entitled The Plan (produced by Ludwig Göransson), is one in which you can feel all the energy pulsing throughout the film. The song is also used so perfectly in Tenet's climax and has you pumped up throughout the movie, all the way through to its completion.
While Tenet is an amazing film, it will definitely take multiple viewings to finally fully understand the story and Nolan's vision. If you can safely see it in the theater, I highly recommend going out and doing so the first chance you get. If that isn't an option right now, I recommend waiting to see the movie in that format,