Tenet Movie Review: Christopher Nolan Delivers A Complex At The Same Time Average Plot; Dimple Kapadia Makes It To Just Three Scenes

Here's the review for Tenet starring John David Washington,Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

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Tenet Movie Review: Christopher Nolan Delivers A Complex At The Same Time Average Plot; Dimple Kapadia Makes It To Just Three Scenes


The world, as far I can see it, is threatened with extinction. It’s up to Christopher Nolan’s heroes to save it. The endeavour to avert global catastrophe is pretty close to catastrophic in this long-awaited Christopher Nolan mind-bender .Trying  to decode the cryptic messages in the plot and to understand the mind of the characters, who infest Nolan’s counter-infinitesimal universe is to bend your intelligence beyond any means.

I saw Tenet twice to get a hang of the plot. A complete overview is yet to emerge. I want to ask the very competent actors in Nolan’s film: did they fully comprehend the plot? Or did they decide to go with Nolan’s conviction. Most likely, the latter. And why not? When it’s Christopher Nolan, you’ve got to go with his conviction. God is seldom wrong. Right?

So, here we go. Tenet opens with a very impressive shootout inside a concert hall .The terror attack is staged with the bridled opulence of an opera. Here’s where we meet  the CIA operative played with a surprising stoicism by John David Washington, known “simply”(can anything in Nolan’s creation be simple?) as ‘The Protagonist’ who is  taken hostage by the Russians.

This pulsating preamble  sets  the eclectic, mood-driven compulsively, cryptic   mood of this elaborate but finally unfinished espionage drama where cities and characters travel from one time zone to another without warning. The plot slips in and out of what can only be described as karma-on-speed.

Though the change in locations and the transformation of moral exigencies are swift and unannounced, the pace of narration feels like a slog. Maybe the sluggishness of pace is just an illusion, just like the time swerves that  the characters take so that they can undo the damage in the present by going back in the past. Some such remedial exercise is highly recommended for this film as well.

Dare one suggest that the  film needed better, more coherent editing, so that the characters’ motivations  would have appeared less inaccessible to us? George David Washingon’s nameless  hero doesn’t attempt to harness the mind boggling hijinks. He instead  goes, and never grows, with the furious flow. We needed Washington on our side. But he is on his own trip.

Robert Pattinson, who  never ceases to surprise, is a jumble of indecipherable almost chaotic compulsions and driven round the bend by a kind of darkened plot structuring where Nolan uses minimum light for character assessment.

The  plot is invigorated with an anti-claustrophobic vibrancy once the Russian super-villain Sator (played by Kanneth Branagh, in the best performance of the  show) barges in with a bludgeoning force. I suspect Brannagh makes Sator far more interesting than he is meant to be.

As for our own Dimple Kapadia, how seriously would  you take an arms  dealer named Priya? She drops in for three fleeting appearances looking like a Parsi dowager who has stepped out in the sun to dry her hair.  Why do such brilliant Indian actors settle for so little in international projects?

The  only female character in Tenet who makes  her presence felt is Sator’s wife Kat, played by the interesting Elizabeth Debicki. Kat  takes a  lot  of cruelty from her husband for their son’s sake.

It’s easy for the audience to identify with Debicki’s suffering character. We feel just as helpless when Christopher Nolan makes his commanding presence felt in the movie kingdom.When Nolan says watch, we watch. End of discussion. 
I will give Tenet 2.5 stars.

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