This weekend, Christopher Nolan’s latest thriller Tenet will hit Australian cinemas in what is a massive comeback for the box office since the beginning of COVID-19. Described as James Bond but better, the film follows a secret agent who embarks on a dangerous, time-bending mission to prevent World War III. With Nolan also behind blockbusters such as Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk and The Dark Knight, it is no surprise the thriller is gaining so much attention. And with a sweep of media already seeing the film abroad, the first reviews are in and can only be viewed as very mixed.
Variety’s Guy Lodge dubbed Tenet as “no holy grail, but for all its stern, solemn posing, it’s dizzy, expensive, bang-up entertainment of both the old and new school.” Though he points out “stray loose threads” which could easily be argued as Nolan’s filmmaking style. IndieWire was not so kind and titled the action storyline as a “humourless disappointment”, and gave mention to cast member John David Washington as “impatient” and Robert Pattinson who had an “absurd cut-glass accent”. The Guardian gave Nolan’s new project just two stars and said Tenet “is far from his finest work”.
In a stark contrast to other publications The Telegraph gave the film five stars but warned viewers, “don’t try to understand it – just rewind and enjoy the ride”, a clever nod to the films script where Clémence Poésy’s Laura, Tenet’s Q tells John David Washington’s James Bond. Empire dubs the thriller as “James Bond without the baggage”. “If you’re after a big old explosive Nolan braingasm, that is exactly what you’re going to get, shot on old-fashioned film too (as the end credits proudly state). By the time it’s done, you might not know what the hell’s gone on, but it is exciting nevertheless. It is ferociously entertaining,” writes reporter Alex Godfrey before giving it four stars.
This is just a handful of reviews plucked from the internet, but already the film is dividing viewers. So why the major discrepancy? It often comes down to the kind of movie buff you come across. Some are so engrained in the intertwining storylines, alternate worlds, hidden references and curious intricacies – something Christopher Nolan is known for. On the other hand, you have film fanatics who are simply after something surface-level, complex enough for something to question but easy-enough to follow along so it’s entertaining – the bigger effects, the better. Nolan has appeared to try the best of both worlds.
So don’t take the reviewers word for it, check out the film ASAP and decide for yourself. A co-production between the United Kingdom and United States, it stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. Tune into the trailer below.