Review: “Tenet” a Surreal Marriage of Sci-Fi and Espionage


Courtesy of IMBd

‘Tenant’ movie poster, starring John David Washington, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Leuel Bekele, A&E Editor

When you watch “Tenet,” prepare to leave your expectations at the door.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, it’s no wonder that this thriller’s abstract concepts have been compared to his 2010 blockbuster “Inception.”

Originally intended for release in July, “Tenet” was delayed until Sept. 3rd in select theatres due to COVID-19.

The film stars John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”) as the unnamed Protagonist and Robert Pattinson (“The Batman”) as his partner Neil. 

Setting the Scene

The film follows an unnamed ex-CIA agent who is recruited into an organization called Tenet which is tasked with investigating the detritus of a coming war — and stopping it.

This takes The Protagonist on a journey across the globe filled with plenty of intense fight scenes packed with supernatural feats.

But there’s one main man of interest: Sator, a Russian Arms dealer who’s working for a mysterious employer to invert munitions and secure a package of plutonium for the impending battle.

Accompanied by his partner Neil, The Protagonist must prevent the war by any means necessary.

Controlled Chaos

While “Tenet” frequently relies on exposition to explain the fantastic nature of the goliath that the characters are going up against, the film also leaves much to the imagination resulting in an interesting first watch.

At times, it was a lot to take in. I found myself getting lost in the jargon, although some of this could’ve been due to the sound mixing. However, the pacing was sufficient enough that this didn’t impact the experience too much.

The action was borderline supernatural in its implementation of inverted objects and people — a prime example of which can be witnessed when The Protagonist clashes with an inverted agent who goes head-to-head with him until Neil comes to his aid and the agent slides away into a blazing fire.

Theatrical Experience

I saw “Tenet” earlier this month at Olympia’s Century Theatre, where all patrons were required to wear masks and each reserved seat came with a two-seat buffer to maintain social distancing protocols.

All high-touch surfaces were sanitized twice per hour and because I attended a late screening, there were approximately three groups including myself in the room. I really enjoyed myself and felt safe throughout my viewing, part of which was due to the film’s low attendance.

“Tenet” has already made back its budget (and then some) in the past month and by the looks of it, there’s going to be a sequel down the line.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled both Christopher Nolan and Robert Pattinson’s names. We apologize for the error.