A mind-boggling and popcorn-eating time travel masterpiece from Christopher Nolan.
Christopher Nolan’s latest entry “Tenet” is a time-traveling flick that provides things I’ve never seen before. I’m not talking about the Avengers collecting the Infinity Stones or Marty McFly driving the DeLorean or Bill & Ted riding the magic phone booth. I’m talking about how time-travel can make people and objects move forward or backwards.
Example, you ask? There’s a gun on the table and the machine is empty, but when the main CIA agent-the Protagonist (John David Washington)-shoots, the bullet goes back in. He’s technically not shooting anything, he’s bringing the bullet back in. And he’s able to pick up a bullet, which, in its perspective, is being dropped.
You also get a car chase, when one car gets a reversed crash. Meaning: it’s like you rewind a car crash scene on your VCR. And when you travel to the past, you’re moving forward in your perspective, while in someone else’s perspective, you’re moving backwards.
It sounds confusing, even the Protagonist takes a while to process this, but “Tenet” delivers as not only a somewhat tribute to some of Nolan’s previous films “Memento” and “Inception,” but also imagines what would happen if James Bond did some time-traveling. It’s a masterpiece, complete with smart espionage plans, thrilling action sequences, first-rate editing, and outstanding performances. It’s a see-it-twice challenge, and that’s usually the case with Nolan’s epics.
Why is this backwards and forwards gimmick happening? Because a Russian oligarch named Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) communicates with the future, and the Protagonist must prevent him from starting World War III. Among the people and objects he has under his power, his estranged wife (Elizabeth Dibicki) is struggling to win full custody of her son, and she can’t divorce him. He is a man who lives under his motto: “If I can’t have you, no one can.” She needs the Protagonist’s help now more than ever.
The cast also includes Robert Pattinson as the Protagonist’s handler Neil, who somehow knows the rules of Sator’s game, Himesh Patel (“Yesterday”) as a fixer, Michael Caine cameoing as British Intelligence Officer, who gives him the heads up on what is yet to come, Clemence Poesy as a scientist, who introduces him to the future, Dimple Kapadia as an arms trafficker, Martin Donovan as the CIA boss, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson appears later in the film as a military officer.
You’re probably not going to understand the concept, which is why you should see it more than once, but you’re still able to see how Nolan introduces us to his vision of time travel. People and things move forwards backwards, depending on the time traveler’s perspectives, and the editing to combine this is unbelievable. It’s like you’re rewinding a tape, which has an image being fast forward at the same time. How often do we get to see these kind of movies take risks like that.
The performances from Washington, Pattinson, Dibicki, Kapadia, and Branagh are all unique in their own ways of easing into the script, and providing eclectic characters with vulnerabilities. They all act like they’re in a James Bond movie, and that show give spy fans a real kick.
The action sequences are also well-shot. The best would happen to be when the good guys have to crash a plane full of gold into an airport. That was no CGI creation; it’s a real 747. It’s like if Nolan was inspired by that comedy plane crash scene in “Airplane,” and spiked it adrenaline.
It’s another one of those movies to be delayed, due to COVID-19, but it’s finally showing in whatever movie theaters are opened. “Tenet” is nonstop entertainment for Nolan fans, and it contains one opportunity after another.