Christopher Nolan's repeatedly-delayed sci-fi action thriller finally hits screens, and it's every bit as ambitious as any fan of the filmmaker could've hoped.
Indeed, Nolan is pretty much the only writer/director working today with the power to put together an cinematic undertaking of this magnitude that isn't tied to any existing intellectual property. For those reasons alone, Tenet should be celebrated. But it's also an utterly amazing film in its own right.
Yes, it's often confusing. And consistently bewildering. But for me, the threads came together beautifully in the final third in a manner that more than made up for all the times I had been lost throughout.
John David Washington (BlacKKKlansman) stars as a CIA agent recruited to combat a grave threat involving the concept of "inversion": objects (and people) with reversed chronology which are travelling backwards through time. Alongside a permanently wind-swept Robert Pattinson, wild heists and dazzling assaults are executed amidst a non-linear framework that allows for some truly insane action set-pieces.
Building on time travel concepts previously explored in films such as Primer (2004), Timecrimes (2007) and even Timecop (1994), Tenet can be bafflingly heady. That said, you'll never be anything close to bored.
Many parts of the epic scale film feel like the purest expression yet of Nolan's professed love for the Bond franchise, especially those involving Kenneth Branagh's sneering Russian villain and his wife, a key character played by Aussie Elizabeth Debicki (Widows).
Washington proves a steady hand in the lead, while Pattinson is lit like an animé character. Neither gets a backstory, but their chemistry is sprightly.
Nolan's choice not to hold your hand through the dizzying high concepts that drive the narrative may put some viewers off, but I left the cinema more than satisfied with both the emotional and technical content of the film.
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Cast: John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh
Director: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 150 minutes
Rating: M (Violence & offensive language)
Verdict: A big, beautiful sci-fi action blockbuster bursting with ambition and scope.