Tenet – Film Review
by Hugh Maguire
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Stars: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki
Viewers who enjoy the worlds of PlayStation and APEX Legends may love this dizzying and dazzling display of special effect wizardry. It is all gobsmacking and delivered at a pace that verges on the breathless and supported by an overwhelming musical score, so overwhelming in fact that it can drown out the limited dialogue. Building on the director’s accomplished portfolio there are well established pacy elements which engage us with the force and impact of battles – bombs go off and cars crash but then they disentangle themselves and we are left in unknown time zones, as a future narrative comes sweeping back at us to collide with a past narrative – if that makes sense. There is a lot about World War III, Armageddon, Plutonium and Inversion Physics. It all becomes very breathless and confused. One is left with the feeling that all the technical effects are just that – effects, because the core narrative is a bit limp, a weak 007 plot souped-up with high-end fashion, luxury yachts and air miles – Amalfi one minute and Vietnam the next all by way of a Gentlemen’s Club in London.
The acting is generally impressive and everyone delivers, with good chemistry between the two leads that could generate a sequence of buddy action movies. This is a new world order of multi-racial and ethnic diversity which is fine to a point. However, the Russian gangster and his henchmen are all quasi-animal like with an inability to speak clearly other than with moans and grunts as if their mouths are full of hay. I’d like to think that the odd Russian oligarch might well be a polished cool customer rather than some blood-thirsty Neanderthal. So in a way the modern, so WOKE, diversity edginess collapses into well-established tropes where the love interest, which goes nowhere, is a ‘delicate’ English Rose and the plucky Cockney soldiers will save the world with the help of our American friends. Perhaps its global ambition to save the world, no more than saving cinema, is ultimately Shakespearian while wanting to be Wagnerian ‘ a tale full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.’