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Canberra
Monday, November 30, 2020

Now showing: Tenet (M)

Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2020 spy film, Tenet, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson.

In Kiev, ‘the Protagonist’ (John David Washington) joins a CIA operation to foil a siege at an opera house. After being captured, the Protagonist is promptly recruited into a secret organisation, and is told that the word ‘tenet’ will “open many doors” for him on his new mission to save the world.

Ten years ago, director Christopher Nolan’s Inception tapped into the zeitgeist of dreaming within dreams. With a cast dressed to kill, the Leonardo DiCaprio-led cipher took audiences through the exposition-heavy dreamscape to accomplish a reverse-heist while reconciling his grief, all to get back home to his children. Tenet has all the faults of Inception with very little of its positives. While Washington brings the swagger, there is so little to his character that he is referred to as ‘the Protagonist’. Like Inception, characters expel exposition against hastily clipped scenes at such a rate that the 2+ hour runtime seems short. Characterisations are reduced to thin genre tropes in favour of delivering reams of information to the audience to sift through to experience any intended payoffs.

While cinematic, this spy movie does not correlate its time-twisting gimmick to a meaningful theme. Nolan is known for not pandering to his audience, preferring it actively engages with the movie that it is watching. Unlike Nolan’s previous time-twisting events however, Tenet may just not be worth the trouble.

Verdict:  A sharp-looking, clinicalpuzzle that requires multiple viewings to solve … which is a big ask. Very disappointing. 2 stars.

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