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Film Review: Tenet

Director:    Christopher Nolan

Cast:  John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branath

Rating:     M

Running Time:     150

Australian Distributor:     Village Roadshow

 

Movies don’t come much bigger than Tenet – with or without the current dearth of choices available on the big screen.

It is a blockbuster of epic proportions from the brilliantly warped mind of Christopher Nolan, the man who unleashed the mind-bending Inception on unsuspecting audiences a decade ago and has had a plethora of other successful releases starting with Following in 1998 and also including MomentoThe Dark Knight and Dunkirk.
Nolan has been developing the script and central ideas for Tenet for over a decade, with five years of that being dedicated to writing the screenplay, and the results are evident from the frenetic opening scene which captures – and keeps – your attention from the outset.

It is easy to get lost in the spectacle with guns, rescues, betrayal, conflict and treachery dominating almost every scene but one thing that is vitally important when enjoying Tenet is you must close your mind off from everything it believes and allow the impossible to become possible as the sci-fi nature of the film begins to dominate.
With a central underlying theme of the future dictating the past and the ramifications in the event of the two becoming intertwined, Tenet is much more than a movie about time travel. While the concept of travel is central to the plot, the manner in which it is handled is fresh and exciting and will consume your thoughts long after leaving the cinema.

As the plot unfolds Tenet almost loses itself in its own cleverness at times but remains bound together by convincing performances from each of its actors who handle the intense and sporadic timeline of events with conviction.

The film’s protagonist, the un-named soldier-for-hire turned saviour-of-the-world John David Washington(Blakkklansman), displays all of the frailty of an expendable asset while simultaneously learning the magnitude of his personal involvement.

Kenneth Branagh (Murder On The Orient Express) is imposing as Russian arms dealer Andre Sator, who holds the key to the potential demise of the world and is hellbent on turning it. Elizabeth Debieki (The Great Gatsby) as his long-suffering wife Kat displays a vulnerable sensitivity that belies her marriage to her violent, abusive husband and Robert Pattinson (Remember Me) finally breaks the shackles of his Twilight persona with an engaging performance as the second hero of the piece. His banter and connection with Washington keeps the story flowing at a cracking pace, while also providing much needed moments of levity from a plot that weighs heavily throughout.

Tenet is a movie that manages the rare feat of leaving you thinking about its components well after its final credits without wrapping things up in a presentable bow. Certain key moments are left tantalisingly ambiguous, providing resolution without making a definitive statement. As with all things science fiction the viewer’s beliefs are forced to take a back seat but where other films fail by dictating the matters of cause and effect, Tenet gives you a glimpse of the answers without the finality of clear resolution and stands out from many others by that fact alone.

 



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