“Big movies are back!”

Warner Bros.

“Big movies are back!” proclaims the most recent trailer for Tenet, urging people to return to the cinema. However, if the desolate scene at Cinemark North Haven and the movie’s middling box office numbers ($4 million shy of industry projections) are to be believed, that is not the case. In the past year, Hollywood has gone from huge theatrical releases like Star Wars and Joker to a trickle of indie releases on streaming services.

However, if any movie could “save” blockbusters, it’s this one. Directed by Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises, among others), Tenet is a mind-twisting, heart-stopping thriller that does with time what Inception did with dreams. 

Tenet follows an unnamed protagonist, portrayed with charisma and swagger by John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), as he joins a top-secret branch of the CIA called Tenet (roll credits). Their goal: to prevent WWIII. However, the battle isn’t against world superpowers, it’s against the future. I’ll stop there, because the less you know about Tenet beforehand, the better.

Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, and Michael Kaine headline a stellar supporting cast. Elizabeth Debicki’s performance proves especially strong as the wife of an abusive Russian oligarch. Ludwig Göransson’s bombastic score serves the movie well, and highlights the fast-paced story (Travis Scott’s track “The Plan” hits particularly hard). 

Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is excellent, and Nolan’s direction is nothing short of incredible. He handles complex action sequences with style and grace. He uses a new approach for certain action set-pieces by playing with time that is simply jaw-dropping (the freeway scene is one of the best in recent memory).

That being said, the movie is not perfect. At times, the globe-trotting nature of Tenet leads it to feel focused more on moving from one action scene to another rather than developing a coherent story arc. Some characters are undeveloped, and certain emotional moments don’t pack quite as much punch as they could. The movie also comes in at two-and-a-half hours, and perhaps could’ve done with a few more minutes left on the cutting room floor.

I also have to mention the current circumstances this movie is releasing in. Going to the movie theater right now requires taking substantial risks, and I can’t tell anyone in good faith that they should go see this movie. That being said, whether in theaters in a few months, on rental services later, or on HBO Max (when Tenet inevitably comes to the service), if you have the chance to watch this movie, take it!

Tenet follows an unnamed protagonist, portrayed with charisma and swagger by John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), as he joins a top-secret branch of the CIA called Tenet (roll credits). Their goal: to prevent WWIII. However, the battle isn’t against world superpowers, it’s against the future. I’ll stop there, because the less you know about Tenet beforehand, the better.

Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, and Michael Kaine headline a stellar supporting cast. Elizabeth Debicki’s performance proves especially strong as the wife of an abusive Russian oligarch. Ludwig Göransson’s bombastic score serves the movie well, and highlights the fast-paced story (Travis Scott’s track “The Plan” hits particularly hard). 

Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is excellent, and Nolan’s direction is nothing short of incredible. He handles complex action sequences with style and grace. He uses a new approach for certain action set-pieces by playing with time that is simply jaw-dropping (the freeway scene is one of the best in recent memory).

That being said, the movie is not perfect. At times, the globe-trotting nature of Tenet leads it to feel focused more on moving from one action scene to another rather than developing a coherent story arc. Some characters are undeveloped, and certain emotional moments don’t pack quite as much punch as they could. The movie also comes in at two-and-a-half hours, and perhaps could’ve done with a few more minutes left on the cutting room floor.

I also have to mention the current circumstances this movie is releasing in. Going to the movie theater right now requires taking substantial risks, and I can’t tell anyone in good faith that they should go see this movie. That being said, whether in theaters in a few months, on rental services later, or on HBO Max (when Tenet inevitably comes to the service), if you have the chance to watch this movie, take it!

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