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‘Tenet’ Movie Reviews – Does Christopher Nolan’s Film Live Up to the Hype?
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has been pushed back so many times from its original, July 17th release date, that the film almost feels like a figment of our imaginations, as if it exists in an Inception nightmare. Well, even with the coronavirus pandemic raging on, it looks like we might just see the film hold its September 3rd release date in the United States. And ahead of its release in the U.K., the first reviews of Nolan’s Tenet have begun trickling in.
The picture so far? Not so hot. Critics so far have labeled Tenet as an overly complicated, tedious mess—failing to deliver on the time-skipping mystery the trailers promised. Though, the reviews have noted it delivers on all the see-it-on-the-big-screen thrills we’ve missed this summer. Now, we’re all probably so desperate for entertainment that we’ll see it anyway, but read the reviews for yourself if you want to know what you’re walking into.
Nolan is not invested in the meat-and-potatoes plotting of lesser mortals. He trades in big-picture concepts, and his latest is tried-and-tested: a device that reverses matter. Careers too, apparently. “Tenet” revisits the terrain of 2000’s “Memento” with more money and a protagonist — sorry, Protagonist — who, in tracking and repurposing that gizmo for good, masters the flow of time rather than falling prey to it. Yet plot-wise, “Tenet” has more in common with “Minority Report” than “Memento,” even as it lacks the sophistication to make that route worthy of exploration. An insinuating mid-budget noir has been punched up into a bet-the-house studio actioner; interminably PG-13 shootouts and fistfights replace those tangible, haunting Post-Its and Polaroids.
Some of this is weariness: for all Tenet’s technical ambition, the plot is rote and the furnishings tired. Eastern European heavies lumber about with pliers and meat-cleavers. Clocks literally tick. Synths groan deeply on the soundtrack. No one shoots anyone without elaborately speechifying first. Extreme lengths (remote catamaran) must be pursued to ensure confidential conversations. The luxe locations titillate for a bit, but there’s something tonally off about the aspirational, How to Spend It aesthetic (Sator’s Italian villa, in particular, really overdoes the busts).Variety:
The sheer meticulousness of Nolan’s grand-canvas action aesthetic is enthralling, as if to compensate for the stray loose threads and teasing paradoxes of his screenplay — or perhaps simply to underline that they don’t matter all that much. “Tenet” is no holy grail, but for all its stern, solemn posing, it’s dizzy, expensive, bang-up entertainment of both the old and new school. Right now, as it belatedly crashes a dormant global release calendar, it seems something of a time inversion in itself.
We are a scant few minutes into the film’s 2½-hour run time and it has already delivered: the sequence ends with interior and exterior shots of an explosion, which the editor Jennifer Lame transforms with as perfect an action cut as ever there was. In that microsecond, we’re reminded of something the last few months have conspired to make us forget: cinematic scale. “Tenet” operates on a physiological level, in the stomach-pit rumbles of Ludwig Goransson’s score, and the dilated-pupil responses to Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, which delivers the same magnificence whether observing a narratively superfluous catamaran race, or the nap and weave of Jeffrey Kurland’s immaculately creaseless costumes. Seriously, the most mind-boggling aspect of “Tenet” might be the ironing budget.
In terms of spectacle, Tenet delivers. The stunts, the camera work and the scale are impressive. As is Nolan’s appetite to use blockbuster entertainment as a platform to seriously consider existential threats, the unconscious mind, and cutting-edge physics.
Note to self: Take Travis Scott’s film opinions with a grain of salt. See for yourself when Tenet debuts stateside (maybe!) on September 3rd.
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