Christopher Nolan Directs Another Amazing Action Movie: Tenet

Cole Megna '21, Contributing Writer

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Actors: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki
Rating: PG-13

With the COVID-19 virus forcing people to stay six feet away from others, and preferably in open air, it is no question that the dark sardine cans that are movie theaters were among the first establishments to be shut down and among the last to reopen. In a summer primed for blockbusters including Wonder Woman 1984, No time to Die, Black Widow, Mulan, and Tenet, they almost all were forced to push back their release or be released on streaming services like Disney +. However, Christopher Nolan, visionary director of The Dark Knight and Interstellar was not about to let a pandemic to get in the way of his new blockbuster Tenet.

I’m the first one to admit that I am heavily biased towards Christopher Nolan movies. I have seen every single one sans Momento and I think that the worst he’s done has been Insomnia which ironically was a bit of a snooze and The Dark Knight Rises which you could blame on studio interference. I am someone who can count on his fingers how many times I left my house during quarantine, and I knew from the beginning that I was going to risk it to go see Tenet on the big screen. With that being said I think that Tenet is among the best action movies of the past few years.

It would be quite difficult for someone to argue that Tenet’s plot is simple, but it wouldn’t be a Nolan film if there wasn’t some sort of complicated time element to it. I am tentative to explain much of the plot in this review, because I think that experiencing it in the theater for the first time adds a lot to the experience. If you want to know the precise details of the plot you will have to think about it after the fact (or just watch a youtube video). However, the main concept is explained well in a short exposition scene near the beginning of the movie.

What I appreciated was that Nolan was comfortable with trusting the audience to understand what is happening without too much explanation. That is what I think will make this movie more rewatchable than Nolan’s previous film Inception which dedicates almost half of it to exposition. Even if you are confused, you can just accept it and simply appreciate the jaw-dropping setpieces that the concept allows to happen.

Nolan is one of those directors who likes to put his favorite actors into nearly every movie he makes: Christian Bale, Sir Micheal Caine, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, the list goes on. Aside from a brief appearance from the aforementioned knight, Tenet seems to be his scouting mission to find his next batch of favourites. I just hope that he liked them as much as I do. The film is headed by John David Washington(BlacKkKlansman) whose natural charisma picks up the slack for the script’s admittedly weak characterization. Washington’s effortless chemistry with costar Robert Pattinson (Twilight, The Batman) creates a dynamic duo that is very easy to root for. The two lead’s Cruise-Esuqe dedication to the craft puts a smile on my face when I can tell that its really them in hand to hand combat scenes, or slingshotting up a building.

If I had to have one criticism it would be for Kenneth Brannagh’s portrayal of the villain Sator. Brannagh’s Russian accent sounds exactly like what you would think an English man who has only seen 80’s action movies would think a Russian accent sounds like. The accent combined with Sator being a generic “bad guy” is arguably the weakest part of the movie and maybe the only thing keeping Tenet out of my Nolan top three. Overall, I just want to see John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in more movies, with or without Nolan behind the camera.

The elephant in the room that I have not addressed yet is the fact that the only way that you can see Tenet is to lock yourself in a theater for three hours during a pandemic where the guidelines to prevent getting the virus is to do the exact opposite. I thought that my theater experience was relatively good, everyone wore a mask, I wiped down my seat, and there were less than 10 people in the theater. However, I understand that any risk is too big a risk for a lot of people.

The good news is that while I am a proponent of the theater experience, I don’t think that you will lose much if any enjoyment of the movie if you just wait a few months for it to come to streaming. Tenet is another great movie for Christopher Nolan to stick under his belt and I encourage everyone to watch it, only when they feel comfortable to do so.