Tenet Movie Review



Times Of India's Rating 4.0/5
avg. users' rating 3.9/5
Rate Movie News Follow on
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Dimple Kapadia, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh
Direction: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

critic's rating:  3.0/5
Bullet in the head

It’s hugely ironic to say that Salman Khan’s iconic dialogue from Kick, “Mere baare mein itna mat sochna, main dil mein aata hoon samajh mein nahi,” could actually be applied to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Just enjoy watching a visual spectacle unfold, don’t try to understand it. Because, after a while, your brain kind of gives up on keeping track of things. So just enjoy the ride. Nolan has given us difficult to understand films before. Films like Memento (2000), Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014) have all increasingly boggled your mind. He has played around with memory, time and space travel, even the theory of relativity before but this one is more esoteric than his earlier efforts.

The Protagonist (John David Washington) -- yes, the central character is called just that in the film -- participates in an undercover operation at a Kyiv opera house. The operation is shot to pieces and he gets captured. He later commits suicide by chewing on a cyanide tablet. But he’s not dead. The whole thing was a test of his loyalty it seems. He’s partnered with his handler and partner Neil (Robert Pattinson) to go undercover again on a more dangerous mission. It seems someone in future has perfected a technology which reverses the entropy of objects. For instance, a bullet fired can travel backwards in time -- don’t ask us to explain the science behind this, please. Somehow, the CIA has come to know about it and think it has the potential to end the world. They want to prevent it from falling in the wrong hands. The protagonist is first sent to India, where a Mumbai-based arms dealer, Priya (Dimple Kapadia) points him towards an even bigger fish, Russian arms dealer, Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). Katherine "Kat" Barton (Elizabeth Debicki) is the estranged art dealer wife of Sator and she’s used as a peg to get to him. But things aren’t as upfront as they seem and the Protagonist really has to employ all his wits and trust in luck to get the job done.

Nolan has basically made a James Bond film. John David Washington is the straight-laced Daniel Craig kind of James Bond. Shaken and not stirred and without any sense of humour. Like Bond films, Tenet deals with international conspiracies, end of the world scenarios, futuristic technology and beautiful women caught in the wrong relationships. Like Bond films, the hero has to rely more on himself than others to get the job done. Bond films are also known for their fantabulous action scenes. Take it from us that you aren’t going to see a bigger action scene than the sight of a transport plane being crashed on the runway. Nolan reportedly used an actual plane to bring in insane levels of reality to the film. The sight of Washington and Pattinson rappelling up and down Mumbai highrises will bring forth a whoop of delight as well. And the chase revolving cars going in reverse is delightful indeed. To give Nolan credit, he hasn’t gone overboard with the new technology discussed in the film but has used it sparingly. The climax scene is totally futuristic and looks straight out of a video game. Full marks to the maverick director for providing us with some out of this world action.

Nolan’s earlier sci-fi films had a deep emotional core, which is missing here. Hence, we don’t get to relate to any of the characters. They appear one-dimensional and seem to be lacking a motive for their actions. It's not that Nolan isn’t aware of his problematic storyline. The characters keep breaking the fourth wall and tell the audience to enjoy the proceedings. They themselves admit that trying to understand what’s going on gives them a headache. John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Dimple Kapadia, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh -- they are all fine actors in their own right. And try their hardest to rise above the highly convoluted plot. It gives us pure joy to see Dimple getting such an important part in an A-grade Hollywood film and nailing it to a T. She holds her own in an international project and let's hope this is the start of many such movies for her. Robert Pattinson exudes cool. He’s the next Batman and was earlier a vampire in films. So playing a mysterious man of action comes easy to him. Method actor Kenneth Branagh brings out his own version of the megalomaniac Bond villain. Just don’t try to fathom his motives and you’ll be fine. Elizabeth Debicki too is the new-age Bond girl, part-vulnerable, part pure steel. She’s also perhaps the tallest person in the film, towering over her male colleagues. John David Washington certainly has the physique and the charisma to play James Bond. The whole film can be said to be a showreel of sorts for him, presenting him as a replacement for Daniel Craig. He delivers what was expected of him. Hollywood has now got another dependable action star for sure.

All-in-all, much like the film’s subject, Tenet is a film way ahead of its time. It’s Nolan’s most audacious experiment. Whether posterity favours it kindly -- only time will tell...

Trailer : Tenet

Ronak Kotecha, August 27, 2020, 10:06 AM IST

critic's rating:  4.0/5

STORY: A time travelling protagonist rises to the occasion and risks his own life to stop the inevitable catastrophe that could be bigger than World War III and nuclear holocaust. Will he make it ‘back in time’ to save the world?

REVIEW: The world is about to end and the time is ticking, but backwards. Well, for most part. Writer-Director Christopher Nolan’s mysterious magnum opus is a film full of an eventuality that feels quite surreal in the precarious times we live in. ‘Tenet’ opens with a bang as a packed National Opera House in Kiev is invaded and is about to be blown to bits. This is a pre-cursor to quite a few such instances that infuse a dose of action and excitement even when the film’s rather convoluted plot might bog you down. But that said, the overarching idea of its plot is fairly simple. It’s about saving the world from an insanely powerful Russian arms dealer Andrei (Kenneth Branagh), who could go back and forth in time. Now, the idea is to beat him at his own game. But in execution, ‘Tenet’ is every bit the high-concept, make-believe and far-fetched flight of imagination that blends action, adventure and intrigue. And Christopher Nolan manages to use many of these opportunities quite effectively.
Our hero John David Washington (known only as the Protagonist) is explained the concept of ‘temporal inversion’ and sent off on a top-secret mission to save the world. He is joined by his British counterpart Neil (Robert Pattinson), whose origins remain a mystery throughout. The mission takes him places including Mumbai, where he breaks into a wealthy arms dealer’s house for information where his wife Priya (Dimple Kapadia), gives him cryptic leads that cannot always be trusted. But it’s only when he meets Andrei’s estranged wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) that he realizes the full potential of just how complex and diabolical the situation is.

The film’s screenplay keeps underlining and explaining its layered plot about technology that can reverse time. Thankfully, it does so with stunning cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and action-packed scenes that are executed with a natural flair and finesse. The idea of going back in time where everything moves in reverse, creates a visually appealing imagery. And the original background score (Ludwig Göransson) is so unique and immersive that it builds just the right amount of urgency and tension.

Everyone is quite aptly cast including Dimple Kapadia, who lends a certain gravitas to her enigmatic character of a powerful Indian woman. She would much rather offer her husband’s assassin a drink and pacify him than panic at the sudden break-in. Her role is not only crucial but also quite fascinating in the way she deals with the Protagonist. Robert Pattinson is charming but remains strictly in a supporting role, never overshadowing the Protagonist, played quite effectively by John David Washington. John’s brooding persona and no-nonsense dialogue delivery is impactful. Elizabeth Debicki is honest in her part as an abused wife held to ransom by her chauvinist husband, but could have been more convincingly written. Kenneth Branagh’s character of Andrei is quite the caricature of a Russian Mafioso with a typical accent and snarling dialogue delivery.

Just like most Nolan films, this one too demands full attention from its viewer, yet there is no guarantee you will comprehend the film’s nuanced narrative in its totality. But that doesn’t take away from enjoying the cinematic experience of Nolan’s vivid imagination that is skillfully portrayed on the big screen. The secret to enjoy ‘Tenet’ lies in what a scientist, who is explaining inversion tells the Protagonist, "Don't try to understand, feel it."