By Peter Colaner
I. Am. Still. Confused.
“Tenet” is the story of a secret agent who embarks on a perilous, time-bending operative to prevent the start of World War III. On top of the time that was bent in “Tenet,” my brain was bent when walking out of the theater.
For starters, “Tenet” is unique, epic and intense — to say the least.
“Tenet” zeroes in on two unique and complex concepts. The first is inverted entropy, also known as reverse entropy.
Reverse entropy can cause time to invert. When a person becomes inverted, they are able to travel back in time from the perspective that they are moving forward in time. However, everything around the person going backwards in time is moving in reverse.
The second byzantine idea that “Tenet” presents is the Grandfather Paradox, which purports that if somebody travels to the past and kills their grandfather before their mother or father is born, this would prevent their own existence.
Director Christopher Nolan’s integration of daedal devices like the Grandfather Paradox and reverse entropy places “Tenet” in a highly distinguishable category of it’s own.
Nolan’s adamance about doing stunts like crashing a double-decker Boeing-747 Jumbo Jet heightened the scale of just how epic this film is. Additionally, John David Washington performing the arduous inverted stunts compensates for his depressing demeanor as The Protagonist.
Lastly, the action in “Tenet” was so profoundly intense that I was on the edge of my seat anxiously waiting to see what would result from many of the fight scenes.
The flaws in “Tenet” were just as apparent as its strengths.
Scenes that were loud in “Tenet” were too loud and the scenes that needed to be louder weren’t loud enough.
The action sequences were gripping, but my eardrums were ringing after these dramatically escalated events ceased. On the contrary, Washington spoke in a monotone and mumbly voice, making it difficult to understand some of his dialogue. And considering it takes close listening to understand the plot, this made the story all the more difficult to comprehend.
Although the intricacies of this film separate it from competition, it’s uniqueness works against it.
This mission to prevent World War III is so sophisticated that the only way people could possibly walk away understanding what they just watched is if the objectives were exposed through dialogue, which ultimately detracts from the secrecy that this mission depends on.
The exposition wasn’t enough to understand “Tenet,” or not for me, at least. The movie immediately captures your attention with things that make you say “how do they do that?” as opposed to asking “why are they doing that?” Because of this, the uniqueness works against an audience’s ability to make sense of the plot.
While “Tenet” is an individualized film, Nolan may have bitten off more than he could chew. “Tenet” leaves you questioning many things — perhaps too many things.
All this to say, “Tenet” was an enormously big film, so much so that it was too big for people to easily connect with.