Tenet Review: Did it live up to the hype?

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Volunteer writer, Amie Woodyatt, gives us a breakdown of what Christopher Nolan’s new hit film is all about.

This is possibly the most Nolan movie by Nolan to have ever Nolaned.

Spoilers ahead. You were warned.

I won’t lie: nothing happens in this film. Literally.

But that’s the point.

Let’s set the scene. Three weekends ago we made the bold decision to go see a movie at Westfield Stratford’s Vue – a completely different experience to normal. Hand sanitisers before ascending the escalator, socially distanced spots to stand on in the queue, masks on at all times (unless shoving your face with popcorn), you know the drill.

 

We’d bought two last-minute tickets, but the theatre was still relatively empty. I sat down, took a sip of my drink, and not long after the adverts, the movie began.

Two and a half hours later, as I walked out of the cinema, I looked at Rahul and asked, “what just happened?”

 

Nolan has taken the concept of time travelling to create a paradox so that the event (in this case WWIII, global destruction, mass death etc) that happened in the future gets prevented in the past and therefore never happens and has made it into a film. Time inversion scientists everywhere are to blame.

The whole point is that nothing happens.

But nothing happens backwards.

(Select) scientists are aware of an impending war due to a huge amount of inverted (simply: backwards) items showing up. We’re talking bullets that un-shoot themselves back into guns. The usual.

 

A CIA agent is enlisted to prevent said impending war. Sometimes he is moving forwards, sometimes he is moving backwards (in comparison to everyone else) (yeah, I don’t really understand it either, but honestly I think that’s half the point).

 

The cause of the war? A dude is dying and doesn’t want his wife to be with anyone but him (even though he’s already essentially keeping her hostage and she hates him) so plans to detonate several nuclear bombs at the time he commits suicide. “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

A red flag if ever I saw one.

I’ll hand it to Nolan, the cinematography had me baffled. Having people moving forwards and backwards in time simultaneously and so beautifully on the screen was absolutely incredible. It properly screws with your mind, but it’s still incredible.

 

We never learn the name of ‘The Protagonist’, but he’s played by John David Washington (you may recognise the name from BlacKkKlansman) and Washington does an excellent job on screen. For a lot of the film he’s just as confused (but, more put together) than I was, and when it ultimately turns out he’s been running the entire operation from the past it’s… well actually it’s still just as confusing.

 

Robert Pattinson (Neil) and Elizabeth Debicki (Kat) are equally excellent in supporting roles. Pattinson’s character actually knows what’s going on for the entire film (I’m glad someone does) as he has knowledge from the past. Debicki’s portrayal of a blackmailed, estranged, angry wife typically moves from apathetic wife/prisoner to murderous free woman.

I’ll just say it: the female lead is basically a Bond girl.

Michael Caine is also in it because what movie is that man not in.

Tenet was clever. I have no idea what the point was, would need a significant amount of time to plot what happened, and will never gain those 2.5 hours of my life back. But it was clever.


Header Image by Frankie Stevens – Head of Design

Edited by Sophie Alexander – Entertainment Editor

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