By Kirsten Coachman
“All I have for you is a word: Tenet.”
The new sci-fi thriller from the one and only Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), starring John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), finally made its way to my local drive-in, and well, I understand the hold out so audiences could view Tenet on the big screen. It’s a big concept, fairly action-packed kind of flick that rewards the movie-going experience.
Washington plays the Protagonist, who is on a mission to prevent the world from coming to an end. Pattinson plays Neil, who finds himself working alongside the Protagonist. And really, that’s all I should tell you. I fully recommend going into Tenet as blind as possible.
But here’s what I will say–it will be tempting to count the film out early, because the first act is slow. Granted, there is a lot of information to soak up as the Protagonist goes about his mission, but there’s very little action outside of the first 10-15 minutes. That said, when Tenet finally kicks into high gear during the second act, it is enthralling– it takes hold of you and doesn’t let go. For example, the bit of the car chase scene that’s featured in the film’s trailer is just a taste of what is an absolutely glorious and impressively shot action sequence.
Another strength of the film lies in the notable performances from both Washington and Pattinson. Washington confirms that he is indeed a bonafide movie star, while Pattinson continues to showcase his chameleon-esque quality as he slides into the role of action star with a seeming ease. The rest of the cast are no slouches either, as the film is rounded out with the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, Himesh Patel, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Performances aside, the real standout of Tenet is its score, composed by Ludwig Göransson, who previously took home an Oscar for his work on 2018’s Black Panther. It’s so well-suited for the film and excels at elevating scenes throughout the 150-minute runtime. I would imagine it probably shines even more so in a theater as Nolan intended his film to be experienced by audiences.
While Tenet doesn’t top the list as my favorite Nolan-helmed film (That honor is held by The Dark Knight), it’s still quite a strong entry in the director’s filmography. Nolan continues to take admirable risks with his filmmaking, compelling audiences to both anticipate and engage with his work.