Tenet (2020)

If the turnstiles were real and people could really go backwards in time, wearing oxygen masks driving cars in reverse (as if finally finding the perfect solution for the traffic infested metro), I’d go back to the time when I watched Tenet only so I could watch it backwards. No, not so that I would understand every bit of it, but so that I could unwatched it. And recover the 2.5 hours that I lost while sitting through Christopher Nolan’s latest.

Okay, that’s not really how time travel or “inversion” works in the movie i.e., you can unlock gates by locking them, but somehow you can’t unwatch a movie. The memory of the movie stays with you even if you go back to an earlier time. So, I guess all the people who didn’t cream their pants on the latest Nolan—well, we’re all doomed. The damage is done and there’s no way to undo it.

Truth is, I liked Christopher Nolan’s idea of time travel, or his version of it in the movie, called “inversion”. But I would probably liked it more if this was a short story—like The Minority Report—not a movie—or if Tenet was more like Minority Report (the movie). And no, it’s not because I found it hard to follow. Of course, I’m not saying I get 100% of the movie while watching it. Sure, there were questions in the back of my head, but I was able to follow the story fine.

Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some would find it to be the most confusing blockbuster ever. Solving puzzles while watching movies isn’t for everyone. And I know some people couldn’t even sit through Inception, a movie that for me, compared to Tenet, was a lot easier to follow. What I’m really trying to say is, I didn’t like the movie not because I didn’t get it (die-hard fanboys favorite ultra lame defense no.1: you don’t get it) or that because it was super-confusing. I didn’t like Tenet because it was like munching on two full popcorn bags of PLOT when you already ran out of drinks.

There’s just so much PLOT. Couple that with constantly loud score not by Hans Zimmer (thus, a lot of inaudible dialogues), plenty of exposition, a few memorable “cool” setpieces and a hokey, partly uneventful final act, and what you have is basically a pizza with two-inch thick crust but with very little toppings. I mean, the movie’s overflowing with PLOT (thus, the need for loads of expository dialogue to forward and explain it), but with very little in terms of believable character motivation, drama, and suspense.

I mean, fuck, if I don’t really care that much about the characters, why would I care about the outcome? You can’t be just following the plot for sake of it, right? Well, a lot of people actually liked the movie. So, maybe for them following the PLOT was enough and in itself was entertaining enough.

By the way, I liked Tenet slightly more than Dunkirk, a movie whose plot can be summed up as: they rescued the soldiers—the end. You could say that Dunkirk was super-lacking in what Tenet has overabundance of. By the way, that war movie was lacking in characters too. At least Tenet has John David Washington playing The Protagonist (no kidding, his character is called The Protagonist really), a sad and sexy Elizabeth Debecki, Robert Pattinson (who’s obviously having more fun than his co-stars) and a generic Russian villain.

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