Tenet (The Spoiler Free Review)

John David Washington Stars as “The Protagonist” in TENET


Starring: John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, Robert Pattinson

Written and Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Letterboxd Score

You will undoubtedly get lost. I mean that with the utmost sincerity and overall kindness that this is the type of espionage/sci-fi thriller that will inevitable weave a tangled web of confusion around your fragile understanding of existence—but that is actually what makes ‘Tenet’ so exhilarating.

‘Tenet’ will also absolutely feel very familiar if you’re akin to Nolan’s filmography. That familiarity will welcome you right in, but you’re quickly humbled when the characters begin to explain; “time inversion” or “reverse entropy”. What we have traditionally known as time travel does not apply to Tenet. Let’s first explain a little what “reverse entropy” is (trust me, you will want know before going into Tenet). The idea of reverse entropy is based in the idea of “time inversion” which is an actual field of study, first discovered by physicists sometime in the 1920s. According to the Britannica article reference above,

“A resultant formula or equation that remains unchanged by this operation is said to be time-reversal invariant, which implies that the same laws of physics apply equally well in both situations, that the second event is indistinguishable from the original, and that the flow of time does not have any naturally preferred direction in the case of fundamental interactions. A motion picture of two billiard balls colliding, for example, can be run forward or backward with no clue to the proper time direction of the event.”

These concepts were thought to be the opening to another dimension, where a world mirrored to our own existed, in reverse. Which could also be the inspiration for the title, which in itself is also a palindrome, a reflection of itself, not having a beginning nor an end. Have I lost you yet? Don’t worry, it will take a bit of time to and probably a couple of viewings to fully understand how this concept works in Tenet. Despite being an overwhelmingly theoretical and technical film, you can still enjoy the magnificent spectacle that Nolan is famous for. More practical effects than computer generated effects, meticulous attention to detail, an engaging story all make a compelling endeavor to entertain and inspire.

Considering how complex it is to adapt the concept of “time inversion” to film, the cast effortlessly brought the story to life. John David Washington, who is little known as the son of veteran actor, Denzel Washington spent countless hours practicing, along with co-stars Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson, their choreography not only forward, but occasionally backwards.

Overall, Tenet is nowhere near a disappointment. Nolan is now that standard of blockbuster creativity we yearn for, that we often saw in the great’s that came before him. I highly recommend catching a screening, but remember to follow your cities COVID-19 guidelines to stay safe and the same for those around you.

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