Director Christopher Nolan is famous for his mind bending, action filled, puzzle movies with surprise endings that, upon a second viewing, were obvious from the start yet impossible to figure out the first time round. Notable movies under his belt include The Prestige, Inception, the Christian Bale Batman trilogy, Dunkirk, Interstellar and dozens more. His most recent project is the sci-fi action thriller, Tenet.
Of the Christopher Nolan movies I have watched, this is by far the most confusing and complex plot he’s come up with. The movie follows a character referred to as “The Protagonist” on his journey to prevent the destruction of the human race. Sounds simple enough. Here’s where it gets tricky. The Protagonist and his team, as well as the antagonistic side, have the technology to invert objects, including themselves. I’ve lost you, right?
Let me explain as simply and clearly as possible.
The way we view the world and live life is forward. Say the time is 10:35 am; in five minutes, the time will be 10:40 am. In other words we are walking into the future.
When an object or person becomes inverted they walk into the past. So if you were inverted, five minutes from now is 10:30 am.
That’s the basic concept of the movie. A very basic concept of it. Once visual effects are added in and the scenes are arranged in the way the director wants, everything becomes insanely more complicated, far too complicated for me to even try to explain.
Personally, I didn’t mind the confusing plot. My mind was forced to pay attention and work out what was happening on its own, thus my brain was activated the whole time and I didn’t feel like I was simply sitting on a couch watching a film. Just like other Nolan films I walked away feeling like I had a deeper understanding of the world even though the science he presents is not yet reality.
That’s the beauty of performing arts; you can tell a story that has no way of existing in our day and age yet somehow still gift viewers with new knowledge of the world.
Despite the massive confusion the plot brings to the brain, all of it is made up for in the cast’s performances. John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kenneth Branagh all present perfectly developed and intriguing characters who ease the plot along and keep the viewer engaged as they reach points when they feel like giving up on the concept.
Were it not for the actors’ ability to undeniably understand what was going on in the plot and in their characters’ heads, the movie would have been far more upsetting.
Unlike many people, I really enjoyed Tenet. My only major complaint is that at some points the sound mixing was really bad and you couldn’t hear what was going on in the scene, but in the end it was all for good reason.
If you enjoy brain teasers, time travel, or have been able to figure out other Nolan movies, this one’s for you. Christopher Nolan did a great job of really challenging his fans and forcing them to think until the very last second.
If all you want is a calm relaxing night in front of the TV, maybe save this for another time.
I suggest giving at least one of Nolan’s films a shot in your life; you might find that there is more to the world than lies on the surface.
Tenet was released in Aug 2020 and can be found for purchase on YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, and Prime Video.