"Tenet" 2020 - Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #43 Gem Mint 10.0

Updated: Oct 2, 2020


“Tenet“ (2020)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language

Runtime: 2h 30min

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

You might like this if you like: Christopher Nolan('s work), John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, heist films, James Bond movies, action, thrillers, science fiction, drama, mystery, Stanley Kubrick, time travel


Nolan just keeps elevating the action genre. He was born to make these films.


John David Washington (left) & Christopher Nolan (right) on the set of "Tenet" (2020)

WARNING: light spoilers (I talk about the opening scene in detail and another action scene later in the film)


Sure it echoes James Bond at times but we get so much more than we could ever want to happen in a Bond movie. He opened up the door to so many more possibilities within that genre while still delivering all the goods the genre asked for. Now I do think the film is less “Bondy” than people are making it out to be. At its core it’s a heist film. Our lead character, played perfectly by John David Washington, didn’t radiate bond vibes as much as I had gone in expecting. It didn’t seem like HIS movie. Or anyone's movie. Washington's character is the lead and very important for sure. It just felt like this big spectacle with more of an ensemble cast of characters. Whereas I feel like whoever is playing Bond at the time does tend to make me feel like it’s THEIR movie.


Robert Pattinson (left) and John David Washington (right) in "Tenet" (2020)


I’m always prepared to be a little lost and overwhelmed by Nolan’s storytelling and visuals but in the greatest way possible. I actually look forward to a second viewing in which I get to appreciate the film for what it is and get the surprise of the first viewing out of the way. His films are so complex they are almost inherently designed to have you watch them over and over again. Again, I'm not complaining. That's what I love about them.


Nolan’s constant collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer always gets my blood flowing but I was shocked to find out it wasn't composed by Zimmer but by a man named Ludwig Göransson. What a beautiful, terrifying and adrenaline filling score. I had to rewatch the opening scene 3 times it was too exciting. I just remembered Kubrick’s “The Killing” (1956) while watching that scene and thinking about how Kubrick chose a horse race as his cinematic set piece to rob and Nolan opened his film with an opera? F*cking insane! That opening scene might go down as one of my favorite action openers ever. It took me back to siting in the theater watching “The Dark Knight” (2008) twelve years ago at the Ojai Playhouse. Those drums Zimmer plays… that adrenaline Nolan creates with movement.. just sucks you right in. Göransson was able to bring me right back into the Nolanverse.

Kenneth Branaugh (left) & Elizabeth Debecki (right) in "Tenet" (2020)

At the same time I’m a little bit jealous he made the easiest film effect into the biggest blockbuster action film of all time. He even said that this film has the LEAST amount of VFX shots in any film he’s done before. Everyone’s saying how great of a heist film this is which I absolutely agree with… but biggest the heist he got away with the most was turning the cheapest effect into the theme of a massive film. I’m not taking away from the backwards in time effect for the story just purely the visual time it takes to create the end image effects. The way he elevated a simple idea to where he took it.. I can’t even begin to imagine. His way of thinking and seeing the world fascinates me.


John David Washington (left) & Robert Pattinson (right) in "Tenet" (2020)


Robert Pattinson’s introduction literally starts with the question “You live in a TWILIGHT world”. Just made me chuckle. Sorry I always have to point out the strange, most likely unintentional, connections to other movies. He is absolutely amazing in this film. The gas scene where he’s holding his breath.. I could feel the panic in his eyes and face so strongly I felt like he was truly suffocating. Just one of the greatest suspense scenes unlocking door to door and holding your breath like that. Pattinson’s won me over as an action star. I still have yet to dive into his filmography more especially in anticipation of Matt Reeves “The Batman”. I’m still a Batfleck fan forever but always excited to see who dawns the cape.


Kenneth Branagh in "Tenet" (2020)


Elizabeth Debecki from "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2." (2017) as Ayesha gets the role of a lifetime in "Tenet" (2020). She fits so perfectly into the style and rhythm of Nolan's mise-en-scène. I was happy to see her get a much bigger role than what I'm used to seeing her in. Kenneth Branagh brings the f*cking heat. He is so terrifying in this film. What an actor. His brief moment in Nolan's "Dunkirk" (2017) is so memorable for such a small part. He's a living legend. I still pinch myself that he directed the first "Thor" (2011) movie. God I love movies. I love that they all connect to each other in some way or another.. My point is, this film is just packed with talent. I know it's probably the most mainstream movie out right now but I don't care about labels or whatever. It's just a damn good movie.


Robert Pattinson (left) & John David Washington (right) in "Tenet" (2020)

I feel like I’ve already said too much. You just need to see this film for yourself (safely, maybe not with a crowd of people). Not that it needs my extra advertising but I haven’t felt this connected to a Nolan film in awhile. It’s an incredible, epic, cinematic ride through time and space. Nolan knows what a drama, an action movie, a sci fi, a heist film, a Bond and a thriller all needs. He is the Masterchef of cinema. Continue on, sir. You’re making your dreams into reality. Thank you for the continuous inspiration and for helping keep film alive.


Written by Sam Gall on 08/30/20


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"Tenet is a sleek, mysterious clockwork which, like its title, flips in its middle and doubles back on itself, exposing its inner machinations. As The Protagonist, John David Washington imbues the director's chilly aesthetic with humanizing warmth." - Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews


"Gloriously mind-bending bunkum, done with such conviction you really will believe your eyes." - Sarah Cartland, Caution Spoilers


"Pure, ravishing cinema from Nolan who offers a dizzying, delirious ride for lockdown audiences yearning to gather before the biggest screen possible in a union of hearts and minds. There's a killer plague betting against him. It's your call." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


Official Trailer:


Available in select theaters September 3rd, 2020.


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