Review: ‘Tenet’ – Never Odd Or Even
There couldn’t be because I have no clue as to what I just saw. Christopher Nolan’s blockbusting head-scratcher is meant to bail out cinemas and bring audiences flooding back. It won’t. Not because it isn’t a great night out – it is – but because it’s going to really annoy a lot of people. This is the first geek film in a long time, the kind of film girls on hot dates will be wise to avoid. I remember coming out of a midnight screening of ‘Gravity’ and hearing one guy say to another (in what was an almost exclusively male crowd) ‘Well obviously you could never open an air-lock with an electrical screwdriver.’
Nolan’s film is a missing James Bond spy pic, rather like that bit in ‘Inception’ where Tom Hardy is in the snow and it looks like an outtake from ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. But it’s 007 with an SF twist; ‘The Protagonist’ (John David Washington) is recruited into a temporal war of ‘reverse entropy’ by Robert Pattinson.
This war is going to be fought in the future, but its detritus is already in the past because it is travelling in reverse time, and to fight the war you need to be going in the opposite direction (let me know when you’re lost/bored) so your battle teams, labelled red for forward and blue for backward, can set off at the same time and move back/forward through time to reverse each other’s actions. Got it? Entropy, the idea of molecules moving from regimentation to chaos, can theoretically be reversed because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but I’m pretty sure it can’t interact with stuff going in a forward direction.
Not that any of this matters. All the 007 elements are present; gorgeous girl on yacht (the scarily tall Elizabeth Debicki), embittered Russian villain (Kenneth Branagh, all lipless menace), shootouts and punch-ups (fight with a cheese grater – Ow!), car chases (simultaneously backward and forward), briefing from mentor (Michael Caine in Pall Mall club), lovely locations (Estonia, London, Amalfi), big stunts (reverse bungees), and of course McGuffin (time reversey thing in a briefcase that looks like large hexagonal nut).
True be told, this is not as theoretical or intellectual as it sounds, just very attractive smoke and mirrors obscuring a conventional location-hopping action plot with some delightful bells and whistles. And the biggest joy; being back in a cinema seeing something grand-scale in the hands of a good director. From the first orchestral note (immediately followed by the image of someone stamping on a cello) to the final ear-shredding explosion, you think one thing only – it’s great to be back.
And for those who’ve just seen the film, check this out. I’m sure you get the idea after a moment or two. There’s an additional clue in the film’s dialogue: ‘He’s gone to Pompeii or Herculaneum.’ Oh, and I hid one in the review, too.