Tenet full review Hollywood

Tenet Movie Review

Devesh Sharma, Dec 7, 2020 16:53 IST

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…

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