Tonight’s Viewing – Tenet (2020) – spoiler free

Directed by – Christopher Nolan

Starring – John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh

This was my first trip to the cinema since they re-opened and I picked a great film. It has massive holes in it but if you put those aside and just enjoy the ride, it’s really a wonderful experience.

To cover my cinema experience first, it was a rather bizarre one. My local Cineworld had about twenty showings of Tenet today and I picked the last one at 9:20pm. When I walked into the multiplex, I was the only customer in there which was something that’s never happened. There were lots of staff and someone gave me some hand sanitiser as I walked in. I was the only person in the screen until halfway through the trailers (no Dune, unfortunately) when about four more people came in. If cinemas are going to stay afloat, it’s going to take a lot more people going to make it happen.

tenet 1
Elizabeth Debicki gives a real standout performance

So, on to the film. I loved John David Washington in BlacKKKlansman and he makes a great lead in this. It took me a while to warm up to him and I didn’t quite buy the chemistry between him and Elizabeth Debicki which felt a little forced, but he grew on me as I watched. Debicki herself is a real standout in the film and does brilliantly putting across the emotional baggage of her character in the midst of such a frenetic tempo set by the narrative. If the chemistry between her and Washington doesn’t convince me, it’s maybe because everything happens at breakneck pace. The chemistry between Washington and Robert Pattinson is excellent as it is given time to develop.

tenet 4
Pattinson does his best Hitchens impersonation

Pattinson based his character on the late Christopher Hitchens, and he certainly does a good impersonation; espcecially in the first half of the film (although to be true Hitchens he would have had to smoke in every scene). Kenneth Branagh is great value as the antagonist and it was good to see a brief appearance from Martin Donovan (who I remember fondly as Matthew Slaughter from Hal Hartley’s Trust).

The science part of the fiction is, as advertised, difficult to get your head around but not impossible. It is based on actual science, even if it is all theoretical. There is a lot of exposition in one scene early on and that was difficult to take in but as things unfold, you start to accept it. I don’t tend to like films that explicitly tell me that I’m not smart enough to understand the science within them but I’ll make an exception for Tenet because it was so entertaining. I think I prefer this to Inception, in fact.

Nolan is trying to evoke the feeling of a Bond film but it never feels like things are being lifted from that series. The action sequences are very impressive and, as far as I could see, entirely based on practical effects. There are less VFX shots than the average romantic comedy according to iMDB. This makes for a very exciting feeling as everything looks so real. I said this was going to be spoiler-free so I’ll not describe any one sequence in detail. Some of the driving involved must have been insanely difficult and hats off to the stunt department for that. The soundtrack is also a great one. Hans Zimmer is not missed as Ludwig Goransson does a sterling job.

So, I can highly recommend Tenet to anyone interested in being entertained. It’s beautiful to look at (especially some of the Italian locations) and does have a very Bond-esque feel to it (bad guys with big plans, henchmen, gadgets, car chases) without having all the conventions and requirements that that series has created for itself. It feels familiar and it feels fresh at the same time.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Richard

You can check out some of my other film-related posts by clicking on the links below. Now I’m going back to waiting for the Dune trailer. Hopefully soon I’ll be actually able to see it )as opposed to watching someone else see it and tell me how great it is on a Twitter video)

Tonight’s Viewing – The Offence (1973)

Tonight’s Viewing – The Hill (1965)

Tonight’s Viewing – Children of Dune (2003)

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