by Ian Morton
Tenet, much like other films from Christopher Nolan, is a love letter to his favourite films, a cineliterate merging of old and new that leaves you in awe of what a true film maker can do with a blockbuster budget.
As much as Inception pays homage to his love affair with heist movies and Interstellar, a tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tenet is Nolan’s version of a Bond film – an unapologetic espionage thriller that pits the secret agent against supervillain, albeit with a little bit of time manipulation and a couple of paradoxes thrown in for laughs.
Without ruining things too much, the plot is best described on IMDb as ‘Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.’
And that’s about it. Sure, there’s a lot more to it than that, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to ruin it. What I will say however is that this is definitely one of the directors more ambitious projects. Like Interstellar, Tenet doesn’t skip around the fact that a degree in physics might help with the long words and complicated sentences, meaning that you have to trust Nolan’s skills as a storyteller to make the complicated a little less so. A few times I found myself just on the cusp of losing the plot, but right at the point it was getting a little too much, there was good old Chris, holding your hand and walking you through how each theorem works in the world of Tenet and what it means for us as an audience. It’s like taking a physics lecture from Stephen Hawking and then having a tutorial in space with Professor Brian Cox – it starts off incredibly complicated but makes sense by the end.
This job of making things more paletable is not only due to Nolan’s skill of telling a story, it’s also down to the stunning cinematography of Hoyte Van Hoytema. Every frame from action to exposition is crafted with a meticulous eye and with such detail, it’s a wonder they had time to make the film at all. With apparently less CGI than your average rom-com, it really is quite hard to describe just how joyful it is to see everything play out in camera. This not only gives the film more texture, it guarantees that this is a film will age well, at least from a visual perspective.
John David Washington’s enigmatic presence is exactly what you would expect from a secret agent. Cocky, self assured and confident, he ticks all the boxes as he delves deeper into the plot and tackles some very tough dialogue. The perfect protagonist. Robert Pattinson is electric as the wise-cracking sidekick to Washington’s hero. With an air of Richard E Grant, his performance is only equalled by his ludicrously chic wardrobe. Heard the term suit-porn before? Well this is a tailor’s wet dream! Rounding things off nicely is a strong list of talent; Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki and Dimple Kapadia. As they are all very much integral to the plot, there is very little I can say without unearthing a dreaded spoiler – just believe me when I say exceptional!
Much like his previous movies, Nolan has once again crafted something that is both a treat for the eyes and a test for the brain at the same time. Tenet is unique, original and something you may not have ever seen on the big screen before. There may be a lot to unpack for those unfamiliar with the filmmaker but if you allow it to wash over you (particularly the technical jargon), there is a lot to keep you entertained. I honestly can’t wait to see it again!
Tenet is available right now in cinemas!
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