Tenet Review

by Allie Vasserman


January 27, 2021

Tenet is a science fiction action movie directed by Chistopher Nolan and starring John David Washington as The Protagonist, Elizabeth Debicki as Kat, Robert Pattinson as Neil, and Kenneth Branagh as Andrei Sator. Tenet came to theaters in September of 2020 and became available digitally and on DVD in mid-December. 

Tenet is a movie that you may have to watch with subtitles and then rewatch several times to fully understand the plot. When it was released in movie theaters, many theater-goers complained that the dialogue during some scenes was difficult to make out. Watching this film on a digital platform or DVD with subtitles resolves this problem. 

The basic plot goes as follows: the Protagonist and Neil are given a secret assignment to stop a threat that could cause World War III. They have to prevent Andrei Sator, a Russian billionaire, from acquiring a mysterious weapon that could destroy the world. Sator’s wife Kat, whom Sator is blackmailing, helps them with their mission.

The movie includes a few Easter Eggs, one of which is its title — the detail that Tenet is a palindrome is a brief hint to the variation of time travel that is featured in the movie. More palindromes follow: Andrei Sator’s name references the Sator Square, or Rotas Square, which contains a Latin palindrome. Time travel is crucial to the plot. And the depiction of time travel in Tenet is incredibly different from depictions in other popular time travel movies, such as Back to the Future. Christopher Nolan brings his originality, known to viewers of Inception, to the often-used plot device — his take on time travel makes for exciting action scenes and requires the viewer to pay close attention to what is happening on the screen.

I think this movie is well-scripted and has a great plot. The visual effects are stunning, and the stunts are coordinated very well. There are some incredibly confusing scenes that I needed to rewatch to fully understand. The movie has surprising twists that are difficult to see coming. And I like that one of Nolan’s favorite actors, Michael Caine, makes a small cameo in the movie. I would recommend watching Tenet if you’re a fan of Nolan’s film Inception, or if you want to watch an original action film that you’ll keep thinking about long after the credits roll. You’ll likely never look at palindromes the same way again.

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