Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Genre(s): Action/Science Fiction
Rated: PG-13 (For brief strong language, action, intense sequences of violence, some suggestive references)
Midway through Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” there is an action scene between the main protagonist and an unnamed soldier. The scene involves a time travel component in which the fight is fought backwards, and the laws of physics are being twisted right before our eyes. The scene appears to come out of nowhere, and yet…I had a sense there was something important about it. I didn’t know what that was per se, but I was in complete trust that Nolan knew what he was doing even if I didn’t at the time. Sure enough, the scene reappeared later on from a different perspective where things made more sense than they did at first. By the end of the movie I still couldn’t say that I fully understood what it was I watched. However it’s not because the film was poorly made, only that – like that earlier fight scene – the director was five steps ahead what I could process.
In truth, it left me feeling sort of like when I first saw “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick: the directors vision was so far above what I could understand, that only through multiple viewings could I appreciate what he was trying to do later on. “Tenet” was very much made in the same way. I watched it the first time as a puzzle that needed to be put together. I watched it a second time seeing how the puzzle fit together and able to more fully appreciate what the film was about. A third time was spent being able to just sit back and appreciate the film as a whole. In some ways it’s fitting that “Tenet” came out during a pandemic, as multiple viewings certainly helped me embrace the movie more. Christopher Nolan is not always known for making movies that hold your hand and spell things out, having previously directed films like “Memento” and “Interstellar.”
More attention grabbing is Kenneth Branagh as the antagonist, who (like Nolan) also seems to be five steps ahead of our hero, and the film really perked my interest whenever he was involved in an action sequence. ‘But what is “Tenet” actually about’ you may be wondering? Truthfully…I don’t believe there’s any explaining it really. Sure, I understand it more now having seen it three times, but speaking it out loud actually makes the movie sound far more ridiculous than you would think. It makes sense in it’s own twisted, convoluted way, but to actually speak the plot would sound like I was reading the synopsis of a Superman comic book (I also don’t know why that’s a bad thing since I DO love Superman comic books)!
Parents, there is some action violence that is no worse than most superhero films and language is kept to a minimum. That said…most kids will NOT even begin to comprehend what is going on, so for that reason alone, probably best to leave the tots at home! Recommended for ages 13 and up.