ALEXXANDAR MOVIE REVIEWS: 'Tenet' Worth Going Back For More

Valdosta Daily Times, 9 September 2020
By Adann-Kennn Alexxandar

“Tenet” (Science Fiction/Action: 2 hours, 30 minutes)
Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rated: PG-13 (Intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language)

Movie Review: Director-writer Christopher Nolan is a talented filmmaker. He gave audiences good screenplays such as “Memento” (2000), “The Dark Knight” (2008), “Inception” (2010) and “Dunkirk” (2017).

“Memento” set the stage for “Inception” and both prerequisites for “Tenet,” another masterful photoplay by Nolan.

John David Washington plays a Central Intelligence Agency agent known as The Protagonist. The CIA agent finds himself part of a mission involving Russian oligarch Andrei Sator (Branagh), who is an arms dealer using time inversion.

The use of this reversal of temporal mechanics gives Sator the ability of precognition. Armed with only the word Tenet, The Protagonist learns time inversion to stop Sator’s plan to cause world destruction.

Time travel in form is complicated, but Nolan makes good use of it.

Nolan's work is cinematic art. His audience is a targeted group. He aims for the upper echelon of people who want to see art in movies with a good complex story with deeply motivated characters. Nolan provides art in the form of good visual effects, cinematography, solid acting and very original stories.

The problem is the visual effects and complex stories can often be superfluous additions.

The visual effects, cinematography and creative stories of his movies are sure to garner awards for Nolan during award season. He has a following, and they love what they see. For good reasons, too. Nolan is masterful.

Nolan uses talented casts to create his stories. This outing he uses the gifted John David Washington, who rivals his father Denzel Washington’s skills. Washington is keen in this role. This is especially true with his interactions with Robert Pattinson and an elegantly engaging Elizabeth Debicki.

Washington is dynamic with Dimple Kapadia as an enigmatic figure who is a pivotal player of the plot. Kapadia nearly steals scenes with her regal demeanor. Of course, Kenneth Branagh is dependable as ever. He is an excellent antagonist to Washington’s protagonist. Branagh’s character is the deepest sculpted persona in “Tenet” and Branagh excels in the role.

The flashy visuals distract long enough that one forgets this movie is lengthy. Each scene’s use of visual effects creates diverting moments that compel the movie. Unless one has a good memory, this movie requires one to remember the subtle obvious. “Tenet” is one of those movies that requires watching it twice to observe what one did not see originally. Virtually, audiences need their version of time-reversal or at least a rewind key.

While “Tenet” contains masterful visual effects like in “Inception,” “Tenet” is overly complicated. The complication exists with the fast pace at which the movie moves. Some scenes are quick moments. They are a few words and then loud action scenes, a repetitive process.

Moviegoers may need to be time travelers to maintain a similar pace. This quick pace gives one little time to know the characters, minus Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh who play an estranged married couple.

A second point of interest is the M. Night Shyamalan syndrome. A director or screenplay writer finds a niche that plays well and exploits it in future movies.

“Inception” and "Memento” had moments where their main characters have an epiphany at an apex moment of their plots. The same applies to the story in “Tenet” at a pivotal moment. The moments work brilliantly but appear recycled bits that rob fine screenplays of their full potential.

That noted, “Tenet” is still a good movie. It has all the merits of a good summer blockbuster and delivers.

Grade: B (Go see it if time is on your side.)

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar lives and works in Valdosta. He may be reached at

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