Review: Tenet, ‘delightfully confusing’

Jack Cutmore-Scott, John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in “Tenet.” (Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros.)

It’s been two months since Cineplex re-opened their doors in New Brunswick due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s an eerie experience.

I sat and gazed over a sea of empty seats. It was strange being by myself, but I realized this is a movie lover’s dream. No chatty Kathy’s, no screaming kids, just myself, a young couple a few rows down and a towering screen.

I went to see Tenet, one of the most anticipated movies of the year and one of the first new major films released in theatres. The film was written and directed by Christopher Nolan and stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. The movie tells the story of secret agents on a time-bending mission to save the world. This is one of the most anticipated movies of the year, but is it worth watching considering COVID-19 restrictions in movie theaters?

What Worked

The biggest reason to see this movie is the action. As if the fights and practical effects weren’t spectacular on their own, catching bullets and guns flying back into people’s hands adds another layer to the action. They seem to use rewinded shots combined with normal movement, adding another layer to the fights. The editing team deserves an Oscar nomination for their work.

Another reason the film worked was Washington’s performance as the Protagonist. That’s not his character archetype, it’s his actual name. He brings a suave, Bond-style swagger while being in a constant state of panic and confusion

There’s great chemistry between Washington and Pattinson even though they hardly reveal anything about themselves in the movie.

Ludwig Göransson also provides a heart pounding, futuristic score that adds more tension to the race against time narrative.

What Didn’t Work

Tenet isn’t the first time Nolan has played around with time in his movies. In Memento and Dunkirk, he plays with how time is presented in the movie and he does this again with Tenet.

The best way I can describe this movie is delightfully confusing. Even by Nolan standards, there’s a lot of exposition thrown at the audience and grinds the movie to a halt

The time-bending and time travel elements are creative and interesting, but aren’t explained well. Even with truckloads of exposition in the first act, I couldn’t get a grasp on how or why things were happening. It may require multiple viewings to understand.

Was this Tenet worth my first theatre experience since the pandemic? Absolutely. You’ll be puzzled by the plot, but your jaw will drop by the intense action and masterful acting.