Christopher Nolan has given us yet another blockbuster, and yes, Tenet is more confusing than any other. The British American filmmaker has a reputation for the weirdest and confusing movies ever, but these movies are easily among the best in the world. Even though his movies and the storyline maybe a little to follow up on, there’s no denying the fact that it is so addictive. The detail, dedication, and research that goes into his movies are completely on another level.
Written and Directed by the legendary director, Tenet is a 2020 science fiction action thriller film. This movie will easily go down as one of the hardest movies to review, a lot have tried, and a lot have failed. This is sole because to review a movie, you have to understand the movie. With Tenet, you have no idea what is going on at certain times.
Before we even try to review and summarize the movie, let us talk about it behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes
As we said, Tenet is Directed and Written by Christopher Nolan himself. Emma Thomas is the one who produced it. The movie actually exists as a co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom.
A lot of the facts about the movie are things we would easily expect from a film like this. Nolan spent almost a decade thinking about the plot of the movie in his head. It took him 5 years to write the screenplay. Tenet fell into pre-production back in 2018. You could say it took the director almost 20 years to conceive the whole film.
Nolan approached theoretical physicist Kip Thorne for help on quantum physics and the elements of time in the movie, which is the central point. Thorne was also the one who Nolan consulted for Interstellar, and we all know how amazing that movie was.
Filming took place in 7 countries. A hotel was constructed just for the film in India, but it was never used, it was supposed to just be an alternative. Another interesting fact about filming during India as they had positioned 40 boats for a scene. During this scene, the crew members saved a person who was about to attempt suicide.
Another amazing fact about the movie is the fact that they used so little CGI. Nolan went on to state that the movie used less CGI than most romantic comedy films. Now that is a very interesting statement. Tenet is an action-packed movie filled with some jaw-dropping stunts and ridiculous moments. It’s very hard to believe that they used so little CGI for this and that most of these stunts were done.
Jennifer Lame, who was the editor, also stated that the movie used less than 300 visual effects shots. Some behind-the-scenes photos popped up online, which showed us how they pulled this off, it’s all true. The movie mainly features the concept of time going backward, hence there are multiple scenes where every single thing is moving backward from debris falling to all of the characters on the scene.
Tenet features a roster of a star-studded cast. We got John David Washington playing a CIA agent who is the main character. We have Robert Pattinson as Neil, who is a handler of sorts for our protagonist. From the beginning, we have a feeling where Neil knows more than what he’s leading on.
Elizabeth Debicki acts as Sator’s wife and an art appraiser. Kenneth Branagh is Sator, the main antagonist of the movie. He plays a Russian oligarch who can communicate with the future.
We also have Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Fiona Dourif, Himesh Patel, and many more in various roles.
Now let’s go to the most tedious task of explaining the movie’s plot. This is a real hard thing to do, so forgive me for any plotholes or gaps in my wordings.
We are thrown directly into the Kyiv Opera House without any context. Here we follow our protagonist, a CIA agent from the start. He is taking part in the extraction of sorts, the target of the extraction is not verified.
Our protagonist can locate and capture the target, which is a weird kind of artifact. During the events that go down, our main character is saved by a masked mercenary of sorts, but the way he is saved is the weird aspect.
He saves him by “unfiring” the gun, yes the movie doesn’t go into many details right then and there. But from what we see, it looks like the bullet went back inside to the gun, not the other way around. But after that, everything seems to have been gone to waste as the protagonist is captured.
He is tortured by the people who have captured him, but somehow our main character can consume cyanide and take himself out of the situation. But it turns out the cyanide wasn’t lethal, it was a fake one. This was used by the CIA as a way of trust testing.
He wakes up later and is notified of the fact that the cyanide is fake and that his entire team was killed in the process. After that, he is recruited to an organization called Tenet. After he joins the organization, he is introduced to the world of “inverted” entropy. This means bullets fired from certain guns have the ability to move backward.
The organization believes that these guys are from the future but aren’t clear on any other details. It’s not just guns, there seem to be all other kinds of weaponry that share the same characteristics, from their deductions, they believe that these are remnants from a war that would take place in the future.
After that, in order to research and find the mystery behind these inverted bullets and weaponry, our main character meets up with Neil, a CIA contact. Both of them track these bullets to Priya Singh in Mumbai, who is an arms dealer. That is where they learn the fact that Priya is a member of Tenet and that she isn’t the one behind this weaponry.
These bullets and guns are purchased by Andrei Sator, a Russian oligarch who seems to have the ability to invert these things. So the duo approaches Sator’s wife kat who is an art appraiser. They find out she had appraised a forged painting, and Sator has been using this to blackmail her.
The duo seeks to find the original painting. Many things go down, and they find a turnstile in the place where the painting is. This turnstile is how all of this time-bending stuff is created, how and when is explained later. So while the duo was in the process of stealing the painting 2 men emerge from the turnstile, and they are moving backward.
Later they talk to Priya, and she is the one who explains to the main character that through this turnstile is how they reverse the entropy of things and thereby moving in reverse.
Now, in Italy, kat introduces the protagonist to Sator, this is the first time he has been able to approach him. Sator decides to kill him, but this plan is foiled when Kat attempts to Kill Sator, and our main character saves him. This leads to both of them, our protagonist and antagonist making a deal to steal Plutonium 241.
So Neil and the main character are in Tallinn, where they plan to attack a convoy. This convoy contains the missing artifact from the beginning, they steal it but is ambushed by an inverted Sator. A lot of action scenes go down a lot of confusing action scenes, that is.
Sator ends up holding kat hostage so that he can get back the case. But our protagonist fools them by giving them an empty case. after that, he retreats and then goes on to save Kat. But this fails, and all of them are captured and brought to a warehouse that houses another turnstile.
Sator shoots Kat with an inverted bullet, at the same time, we see another Sator who is not inverted, and he wants to know the location of the artifact. Just as when things were looking to go south, a team from Tenet arrives and saves the entire group. Just as this happens, Sator takes his leave and escapes into the turnstile.
In order to save Kat, they take her through the turnstile, thus reversing the bullet she was hit by. Our main character also goes through the turnstile to retrieve the artifact at the ambush site, but yet again, things go south, and he finds himself in a car crash about to catch on fire.
But trusty Neil is back again and saves him in the nick of time. Neil also reveals the fact that he too is a part of Tenet. Later from Priya, they learn that Sator is trying to collect all the artifacts so he can bring back an algorithm of sorts that can completely collapse the entropy of the entire world, in the end destroying everything.
Now, this is when kat reveals that Sator is suffering from cancer and that his days are numbered. So by using a dead man’s switch, he will trigger the algorithm and cause the end of the world. From her calculations, he will go back in time to Vietnam on the boat because that was where he was last happy, it would make the perfect last moment.
So the plan now is troops from Tenet would seize the algorithm, which they tracked to Sator’s hometown in Northern Siberia, and Kat would also go back in time to Vietnam to intercept Sator to delay the end of the world.
The troops are divided into two teams, with half being inverted and the other half not. This causes for one epic and very confusing action scene. Here also, they are saved by the same guy that appeared at the opera house.
On the other side, Kat fails to keep Sator busy, and he finds out that this is not the present Kat. So she has nothing else to do but kill him, but luckily as Kat ends Sator’s life, the troops take control of the algorithm. The algorithm is split in three ways, and they part ways. The mysterious mercenary that kept on saving our main character is revealed to be Neil.
Neil fills in the information that he was actually recruited by the main character in the future to tidy up everything, and he ends it by saying which would mean this is the ending of a long friendship.
Now to the final scene where we see Priya getting ready to have Kat assassinated, which is her way of tying up loose ends. But our main character shows up in the scene and kills Priya. There he realizes that he is actually the mastermind behind Tenet and the whole operation from the future.
First off, let us talk about the movie in general and not the plot. The camera work, the research, the dedication, everything that has gone into this is just exceptional. Everything is done to sheer perfection that even a person who doesn’t watch movies that often would take notice.
The inverted scenes, in particular, were done very well. They actually shot the whole thing separately, which elevates the experience so much. You can easily understand the work that has gone into making the inverted scenes.
The cinematography, the score, everything is on a level that cannot be matched that easily. But somehow, the script seemed to have failed itself. Yes, this movie had a lot of issues.
One of the main things people talked about was how they didn’t care for any of the characters. There wasn’t ever any depth or great character arc that would lead us to care for any of them. None of them seemed to have an objective or any kind of driving force behind them, even the villain was your run of the mill kind of bloke.
Also, everyone heard the fact that the sound quality of the whole movie was very bad, and yes, it is true. Sometimes important lines of dialogue can be made hard to hear.
But none of this means it isn’t an experience. Tenet is really a must-watch, having this sheer sense of confusion where you are trying to make sense of everything that’s happening around you, staring in awe at the visuals, realizing how deep-rooted the concepts are, all of these are Nolan magic we all need to experience.