Tenet achieves expectations

WRITTEN BY: Ben Thomson, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

It’s finally here.

One of the most anticipated films of 2020, the movie that will single handedly bring back theaters all across the country, the one that’s so grand director Christopher Nolan insisted it be shown in theaters all across the globe. That’s right, Tenet’s come to town. 

But the question on everybody’s mind is, does it live up to the hype? I thought so. Will it bring back movie theaters anytime soon? Probably not.

Tenet is a behemoth of a film. From the enormous set pieces to the lavish backdrops, every cent of its $200 million budget is onscreen at all times. There are a lot of wideshots displaying the beautiful environments surrounding our characters, even in scenes where one isn’t necessary. 

When it comes to action, the film spares no expense. One notable sequence involves characters crashing a passenger airplane into an airport terminal as a distraction during a heist. 

And you bet your ass Nolan put a 747 through an airport terminal.

But big, pretty vistas and awesome practical explosions can only offer so much on their own. Thankfully, Tenet is more than just eye candy. Though John David Washington’s character is simply known as Protagonist, he’s by no means boring. 

It takes a special talent to give life to an underwritten character. On paper, Protagonist is a soldier just following orders.But played by JDW, Protagonist is an American James Bond. He’s smooth, funny, charming, and above all likable. If I took away anything from the experience, it’s a desire to see Mr. Washington don the title of 007. 

That isn’t to say the movie is free from criticism. Its biggest flaw is probably the sound mixing. This is a loud movie, so it’s expected that the sound design would be overbearing. But that doesn’t mean it has to be at the expense of the rest of the film. There are moments where dialogue is practically inaudible under the bellowing score. 

The final (presumably important) monologue from Elizabeth Drebecki’s character was completely covered by the film’s score. I couldn’t tell you what she said. It doesn’t help either that characters are constantly muffled by masks throughout the film. 

I’m constantly left to think I’ve either missed something crucial to the plot, or the dialogue simply wasn’t important enough to be heard. Either possibility wouldn’t surprise me, to be honest. 

The script goes to great lengths to explain the nitty-gritty of the film’s universe and how the reverse-entropy works. It bites off more than it can chew, further complicating an already complex idea and often leaving the audience scratching their head. They should’ve kept the original explanation they went with at the beginning of the film: don’t think about it too much.

Tenet is a fun, high-concept action flick with some great performances and giant set pieces. It’s unfair to put the future of cinema on its shoulders, so don’t go in expecting Lawrence of Arabia or anything. Currently there is no indication of when the film will come to streaming services. 

FINAL RATING: 4/5 stars