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Film Review: Tenet (2020)

Disclaimer: This review is only possible because I went to the cinema to see the film. I am in a position where my country has a low rate of transmission of COVID-19 and I, alongside my household, are not in the high-risk category. I made a personal choice to attend the cinema, and I am pleased with how my cinema chain has handled social distancing and spot checks throughout the entire film.

I am in a position to go to a cinema, but that does not mean everyone else is. If you do not feel safe to go to the cinema, then don’t. No film is worth your health, especially if you are in an area or country with a high rate of transmission. If you or a household member is of high-risk from the virus, I would not recommend risking the trip. If you feel that your cinema is not taking the right procedures in social distancing or wearing masks, I would recommend not giving them your support and staying away. Just because films are being released and cinemas are starting to re-open does not mean the virus has gone away.

If you choose to go to the cinema this weekend or any time soon, enjoy yourself! It’s great that the film industry is finally able to make back some money and give us some much-needed entertainment. I also encourage you, however, to be respectful of those around you. The staff at these chains are potentially risking their lives daily to provide you with entertainment, so be respectful to them. Make sure to also respect other film fans who will be turning up, wearing your mask, and sticking to the social distancing guidelines in your local area. 

Stay safe and put your health before any film, even if it means you are not ready to go to the cinema yet.

Tenet (2020) is a sci-fi spy film that was meant to be released in July, but due to the pandemic was pushed to August 2020 in the UK and September 2020 in the US. Directed by Christopher Nolan, this film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki. With the discovery of time manipulation to invert movement in objects, a Protagonist (Washington) is tasked with stopping World War III.

Tenet: Christopher Nolan Didn't Show Films That Inspired Him to ...
If it already wasn’t clear from his breakout performance in BlacKkKlansman, it is certainly clear now that John David Washington is captivating on the screen. It is refreshing to see a black actor lead a big-budget film of this scale and not have it be based on his skin colour. He was the perfect choice for the lead role, and I hope that we continue to get to see Washington in more projects like this. Robert Pattinson has been on a high recently with the success of The Lighthouse and the love for the first trailer of Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Whilst we may have to keep reminding people that he is better than his Twilight days, may this film be another reminder of how good he is and why he has been working with some of the best in the industry.
For a Nolan film dealing with time manipulation, it is clear that the visuals are going to be some of the best. Nolan may have created some of his most thrilling and gorgeous sequences to date, with the CGI work being unnoticeable in the slightest. There are action sequences that are visually stunning, but then also have a huge impact throughout the narrative and shot in different viewpoints. This absolutely blew me away and made me fully appreciate the film on a technical perspective. 
Nolan has had some issues in the past with his expositions and how he has explained the premise of what the film is doing. However, at least with some segments, I loved how he explained the idea of inverting time and manipulating it to be a weapon. There is one particular sequence near the beginning that focuses on this idea, and I actually found myself understanding how it could possibly work. This all helps alongside with the visuals to build this world up, a potential future where weapons could have an impact on the past. With all of the gorgeous settings, the fleshed-out technology and a concept that is intriguing as well as narratively vital, it is easy to fall into the world and never want to leave.
Christopher Nolan's Tenet Gets Its First Reviews | Vanity Fair
This may be because I have not stepped foot into a cinema for the past five months, but the sound design of this film is something that truly surprised me. Whilst the soundtrack is simple enough but works well to build up suspense and tension when needed, it is the sound design that elevates the visuals here. The booming sounds that constantly roared in every action scene made my heart race, once to the point where I could hear it. That was how thrilling some of the sequences were and the sound definitely elevated that experience to another level.
As much as I love the exposition for this film, I found it to mess around with the pacing overall. Instead of a natural progression of exposition leading to the execution of the time manipulation, the film spliced it up and it would shift from segment to segment. Whilst I would understand this format, making sure the audience is able to keep up with all of the information that is being thrown at them, it does drag out the film a lot more than it should. The very start of the film throws you straight into the action and gets your heart racing, only for it to cut harshly into some exposition that does very little to explain what happened or the relevance for it in that moment. Whilst Nolan is very much a director that makes the audience play catch-up with the film, the execution here is not as strong as some of his other works.
One of the main issues that I had with the first watch of this film was how disconnected I felt from the characters. Whilst I found myself sucked into the world-building and concept of the film, the narrative wants you to care about one particular character, Kat (played by Debicki), and her relationship. It took a while for me to get invested in this storyline and for Debicki to come out into the role, but I think this may be something that improves on a second viewing. For a first viewing though, it does take some time to connect to any of the characters in the film.
Tenet Movie Reviews Divided on Time-Bending Plot and Ambition ...
Whilst this is not top-tier Nolan for me, this was a wonderful first trip back to the cinema for me. This is a spectacle and a film that is certainly begging for the big-screen viewing experience. From the booming sound to the stunning visual effects, it is hard not to get sucked into this world, flaws and all. If you are already set on going to the cinema soon, this is worth a watch for sure. Only if you are ready and set for the cinema, though.
4/5

Are you going to be seeing Tenet soon, or are you going to wait to check it out? What did you make of the film? Let me know all of your thoughts down below, and please stay safe.

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