Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” is a Mind-Bending Action Flick

Despite+a+confusing+explanation+of+time+travel%2C+%22Tenet%22+contains+an+engaging+storyline%2C+spectacular+fight+sequences%2C+and+phenomenal+acting+from+its+cast.

Sam Garcia/El Paisano

Despite a confusing explanation of time travel, “Tenet” contains an engaging storyline, spectacular fight sequences, and phenomenal acting from its cast.

If you didn’t like the mind-boggling antics of “Inception,” then you probably – most definitely – won’t like Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” But you will enjoy it more than “Interstellar.” Initially slated for theaters on July 17, the film was postponed to July 31, then August 12 because of the COVID-19 epidemic. Warner Bros. finally decided to internationally release the film on August 26, with some theaters in Orange County, including AMC 30, opening September 11. Now let’s dive in:

What was the Plot?

Don’t ask me specifics on the plot because, well, I don’t know. But here’s what I do know: John David Washington is enlisted to stop the detonation of a temporal bomb. To do so, he has to team up with Robert Pattinson and utilize time travel. Look at that, I dumbed down the plot. A pat on the back would be appreciated. 

Muffled Dialogue

My problem with the film is, as mentioned above, I couldn’t understand most of what was going on. The sound mixing seemed off: it was really difficult for me to hear the dialogue. Someone would spill some important exposition to move the plot along and next thing you know, we’re on to a new scene. When the characters spoke while wearing masks, it was especially difficult to hear what was going on; it gave me flashbacks to Nolan’s 2012 flick “The Dark Knight Rises,” when you could barely understand Bane’s villainous monologues. The booming score by Ludwig Göransson also drowned out some of the dialogue. But thanks to the power of deduction and inference, I was able to piece together what was happening. 

Explaining the Science of Time Travel

Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker is like the kid in class who memorized lecture notes word for word. Then that same kid tries to explain to his buddies the material, but just ends up telling them what he’s memorized. You get the what, but not necessarily the how. That’s the route Nolan takes explaining the science of time travel in the film. We learn about inverted objects that move backwards in time thanks to…science. Washington’s character (as well as the audience) is told, “Don’t try to understand it.” It’s a learn as you go type of ordeal: the farther into the film we get, the more we somewhat understand the way time travel works. Once that happens, the action sequences and the plot make a whole lot more sense. 

Spectacular Action Scenes

Speaking of action sequences, this movie has some of the most creative action pieces since 2016’s “Dr. Strange.” In fact, most of the sequences play out like the Marvel movie. Car chases and military-style battles feature time moving in reverse and forward at the same time, as if the Sorcerer Supreme were using the Time Stone.

Final Verdict

While you may not entirely know what’s going on, “Tenet” is a slick, enjoyable 150 minute action flick. It does a great job of tying together different plot points and loose ends (unlike *cough* Inception *cough*). There was a point where I literally gasped out loud when I saw a scene from earlier in the film play out in a later plot point. Here’s my advice: just buckle in and enjoy the ride, but make sure you have your thinking cap on standby.

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