Movie Review Flashback: ‘TENET’: A Nonsensical Masterpiece

With Tenet now available for the masses on HBO Max, here’s my review.

Christopher Nolan is known for making movies with trippy plotlines that are hard to grasp but nice to look at and yet TENET makes Inception look like an Avengers movie.

TENET is incredible for all of its spectacle and seat-rumbling (due to its incredible sound in IMAX) glory but what it has in sheer eye-widening visuals it lacks in cohesive storytelling. Literally, I didn’t know what was going on from the very beginning.

The movie moves at such a breakneck speed from the get go that you can’t figure out what in the heck is happening, not to mention that the movie is so loud you can’t hear what people are saying when it seems that they’re uttering a crucial detail to the ever-changing plot of the movie.

Nolan has created a puzzle that runs forwards and backwards, literally, and his time inversion heist save-the-world-from-doomsday-semi-love story movie is just…whoa. It’s a lot!

I’m a Christopher Nolan fan and once again he has delivered another mind-blowing achievement in the art of movie making. His story is ridiculously complex but I understand that with multiple viewings it will surely get better and better. I am very excited to see it again one day and unlock all of its fascinating intricacies but the fact that as I walked out of the theater and didn’t know what was going on…that isn’t exactly what you want out of a movie.

I’ll give this movie, as of right now, a solid 90 out of 100 and 4 out of 5 stars. For spectacle, it’s perfection. For storytelling, this is probably the most confusing movie I have ever seen.

Present day: I would just like to let you know that I have watched this movie at least four times and it is still confusing as heck and a bit overwhelming, if I’m being honest. John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki are great leads to this solid espionage Bond-esque film and it is their performances alone that keep me invested but for the first time in Nolan’s career, he created a story that involved him biting off more than he could chew.

But it’s still got a great soundtrack and the visuals are as stunning on the television as they were in IMAX.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day.

7 thoughts on “Movie Review Flashback: ‘TENET’: A Nonsensical Masterpiece”

  1. Literally, I didn’t know what was going on from the very beginning.

    To be honest, only understood one-third of the movie; and I already checked imdb. Reverse Chronology is a confusing concept.

    Thanks for the review Annlyel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really loved it, and I loved the fact that it demanded all of the attention and intelligence that the audience could muster up. This is so different from the standard studio approach which is to dumb things down and pander to the lowest common denominator. I just saw it once so far, in 4DX last year, and thought it was the perfect mix of hard-driving action scenes and a thought-provoking storyline. I felt like I understood most of it, and certainly enough of it to enjoy the movie. Since the lead character is also learning about this for the first time, I don’t think it hurts that the audience also feels disoriented by some of the events. He’s going through the same experience, and it adds to the suspense to think that he might be outsmarted by the villains when it comes to this technology.

    In some ways, this movie answers quibbles I’ve had with time travel in other movies. I always wondered why, if Marty goes back 30 years in Back to the Future, doesn’t that mean the world is rewinding around him, which means his car could hit any number of objects as he rewinds time around him? It’s time traveling, not time-teleporting. Even if it was teleporting, how do they know there won’t be a tree sitting at the spot they’re in when they get back to the past, that would cause some catastrophic molecular collision? So being able to see people travel back in time at the same speed that we travel forward in time, instead of instantaneously, makes perfect sense to me.

    The trickier part of the movie is thinking about inanimate objects traveling back in time. I have to watch it again to get the hang of that. I’m just thinking if I sent something back in time, but it had to in a normal speed, in reverse, and didn’t have to actually be sitting in a time machine. It would just be sitting still, but if I tried to interact with it while it’s going back in time, it would perhaps behave differently. Have to figure out if how the movie portrays that makes sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen it about seven times now and each viewing makes things easier to understand and harder to understand at the same time. But it’s an amazing concept and who doesn’t love seeing this trippy use of time travel? It’s simply awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s scary. I thought it would just get easier. LOL. I’d just say, for how many time travel movies we’ve had, for someone to do something completely original and unique with the concept, is an astounding achievement. Who, given that assignment, before Tenet, could’ve pulled it off? I haven’t seen all of Nolan’s films, and I have my share of quibbles with some of them, but I think this is his masterpiece and best I’ve seen. His plots are usually on point, but he’s done films where the characters aren’t fleshed out enough or the action isn’t strong enough. In this one everything is in top form.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve watched almost all of Nolan’s films and they are all astounding, imo. He has such imagination.

        My personal favorite of his is Interstellar. It’s absolutely phenomenal and undoubtedly the best sci-fi movie next to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interstellar was definitely my favorite of his before Tenet. Tenet reminded me even more of 2001 because of how much it leans into hard sci-fi and how much it expects the audience to put real thought into the movie. It’s a little more focused on the science and its implications for humanity than it is on individual character development.

    Liked by 1 person

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