Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Tenet (2020)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Juhan Ulfsak, Jefferson Hall, Ivo Uukkivi, Andrew Howard


Classic Nolan fare, with a clever, mind-bending, intense story, polished lighting, photography, and editing, seamless and impossible effects, and a heavy, droning score.

I think I’m with most people when I say that the story was hard to follow. There are so many things happening to so many people in so many directions that it’s hard to keep it all together. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is very fast and cascades in such a way that if you don’t understand something is said, everything that comes after is difficult to follow, and it’s very hard to catch up. Might take multiple viewings to really understand this one.

At this point, my only criticism is the nonchalance shown by the Protagonist when he first learned about inversion. This is perhaps the craziest, most mind-bending concept humanity has ever encountered, and he barely batted an eyelash. Nolan did a slightly better job showing appropriate ignorance and awe when Page’s character was first exposed to the concept of nested dreams in Inception.

Washington is a solid lead. With a gravitas I first saw in BlacKkKlansman, Washington plays the role with stoicism, coolness, and next level broodiness. The rest of the roles are wonderfully casted, performances all around are quality. Pattinson impresses. Branagh plays one of the most chilling, sinister characters I’ve seen in a long time. Lots of nice suits.

Effects are really well-done. I have no idea how they pulled some of those off. In some cases, I could tell that people were simply moving backward, but a lot of shots used masterful, seamless compositing to make the impossible look real. The extended shot of the boat moving backward and then Washington doing pull-ups forward was subtle but executed perfectly.

The Ludwig Göransson score is perfect.

Nolan may be smarter than all of us, and he is continuing to cement himself as one of the great film minds of our time. Each movie he makes is more clever and polished than the last. It’s just gotten to the point where it all might be too clever for regular folks to take in.

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