Ever since director Christopher Nolan wowed and confused the world with his 2000 film Memento that started with the end and ended with the beginning, everyone knew he was someone to keep an eye on. After bringing us other hits such as the Dark Knight trilogy, and films such as Inception and Interstellar that featured twisted sci-fi elements, Nolan has decided to place this unique spin on the spy thriller genre in Tenet. As with most of Nolan’s films, you’ll be scratching your head as you watch, but it’s a fun ride you’ll want to take.
John David Washington stars as the Protagonist (who’s got time for names, right?), a CIA agent that’s as heroic as they come as he has no problem laying his life on the line to save others and the world. After a critical mission to save a fellow agent goes wrong and he’s kidnapped and tortured by Russians, he proceeds to bite the bullet (or cyanide capsule in this case) so any valuable information dies with him. He later wakes up and finds out it was a test to see if he’s worthy to take on the greatest mission ever, saving the world from someone in the future that wants to destroy the past aka our present.
This person is somehow causing things such as bullets to flow backwards instead of forward by using inverted entropy. To go into that further would spoil the film as well as how and why they happen. But needless to say that the protagonist is going to need help getting to the bottom of it. He’s paired with a handler named Neil (Robert Pattinson) that becomes his partner as they track down all of the bad stuff coming from a guy named Sator (Kenneth Branagh), a Russian oligarch who works with the person from the future and takes pleasure in beating his wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) and keeps their young son away to keep her in check.
Being the good guy he is, the protagonist uses Kat to get close to Sator at first but begins to feel sorry for how she’s being treated and vows to help her get away from her abusive husband in exchange for her helping him. This won’t be easy as an arms dealer named Priya (Dimple Kapadia) wants to use the inverted weapons Sator is putting out there for her own needs, and Sator seems to always be ten steps ahead of game.
While there were plenty of moments that left me confused, especially when the reversal stuff comes into play, I still had a great time watching the twists and turns of this sci-fi spy mystery play out. It’s literally one of those movies where you don’t know what’s coming next as the next stuff hasn’t happened yet (yeah, it’ll make a lot more sense after you’ve seen it, and a few times at that).
Even sweeter was watching twists unfold in 4K UHD and with HDR, thanks to Nolan shooting the movie with both 65mm and IMAX cameras. So while some may find the back and forth between 2.20:1 to 1.78:1 ratios annoying as black bars will come and go at the top and bottom of your screen depending on the shot, I didn’t have a problem with it as both ratios look super crisp and beautiful. As usual, the DTS-HD audio is just as amazing as every line, action sound, and the sweet music score comes through loud and clear.
There’s not much in the way of special features, but there is one long one called “Looking at the World in a New Way”, an in-depth documentary that goes into everything behind the film. From the production to interviews with the cast and crew going into how deep and complex the film and its plot is, this extra covers it all. There’s also the theatrical trailers to check out as well.
You’ll find yourself getting lost with some of the complicated and convoluted parts, but as long as you don’t go in expecting best picture award material, Tenet is still a fun, sci-fi spy thriller ride that’s worth the headache you’ll get. A great cast along with 4K UHD with HDR color and DTS-HD audio make sure all the reversed action and effects play out well while the visuals and audio are spot on. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up for your collection, just be careful you don’t run or drive backwards while doing so.