Tenet: Film Review


Cinemas needed a new blockbuster to draw audiences back in after the lockdown and Christopher Nolan offered up his new movie Tenet, which was originally scheduled to come out in July, to help them out – but is it worth the trip? Decide for yourself with my spoiler-free review.

John David Washington plays a man simply dubbed the Protagonist, a former CIA agent who is put on a new mission following a failed operation in Ukraine. He must enter the mysterious world of arms dealers, art, international espionage and “time inversion” to save the planet from destruction.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what to write for the plot because I don’t know what’s a spoiler and what’s not, so for the sake of caution, I’ve kept it super basic. But what you need to know is – Tenet is peak Christopher Nolan. It is Nolan at his most Nolanesque. If you thought Inception or The Prestige were confusing, then you need to get mentally prepared for Tenet. It’s his most confusing film yet and you would need a couple more watches to fully grasp it (although I doubt I’m ever gonna fully grasp it tbh). It’s so complicated and I couldn’t explain the plot to you in any detailed way no matter how hard I tried. I would even say that it’s more complicated than it needs to be.

But my philosophy is this: you will enjoy it more if you don’t get caught up in the details. As someone who loves to know the who, what, why, and how of everything, especially in films, it’s very hard for me to let go and stop trying to work things out logically, but it’s the way to go. This went completely over my head and it’s complexity probably stopped me loving it, although I appreciated many aspects of it.

For example, I enjoyed the stunt setpieces a lot, Nolan really delivered on those, and the action scenes that play with time may be confusing as hell but they look so damn cool. There is one fight in particular that stands out to me and I would love to see it again. The globe-trotting cinematography is gorgeous and some of the time inversion shots are incredible to witness. Nolan also cast top-notch actors – Washington is a strong, commanding lead and Robert Pattinson was my favourite as his well-spoken Brit associate Neil. However, we never get to know much about either of them, which is super frustrating.

Besides the confusing nature of this sci-fi action film, I also didn’t love that Elizabeth Debicki‘s Kat was essentially a damsel in distress and had little agency of her own, that the script basically explains a lot of stuff in big expositional dumps, and that I came away scratching my head and needing it to be explained to me before it made a bit more sense. Also, Kenneth Branagh does some overacting as the Russian villain Sator, who is given very little motive or explanation for his plans, and I would have probably understood the movie more if some of the important dialogue wasn’t rushed or mumbled!

Tenet is a blockbuster movie with a capital B – it is spectacular and cinematic and deserves to be seen on a big screen, so I think it’s worth the trip. However, I never got fully immersed and engrossed in it and I never cared for any of the characters (probably because we didn’t get to know them very well). It probably takes two or three watches to be understood and appreciated more, which I’m sure fans will be happy to do (cinemas will be thrilled!) but I’m in no hurry to do that.

In cinemas now 

Rating: 4/5


  1. […] I know many people are going to be flocking to cinemas to see Tenet this weekend, but I want to throw an alternative movie into the ring. Hope Gap is a wonderful drama about separation and I enjoyed it just as much as, if not more than, Tenet. […]


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