Oh boy, at long last we burst from the ropes and chains wrapped around movie lovers for months by killjoys with way too much power. For crying out loud, I am a grown-up. I can evaluate any risks that going to the flickers might or might not hold for me. Harrumph.
But to have the much-heralded and long-awaited “Tenet” by the incomparable Christopher Nolan as our first feature film makes the wait almost bearable. We can expect something extraordinary.
Besides a genius director, we get a star-studded cast. John David Washington plays “protagonist,” the lead. We know him as a football player on TV’s “Ballers” with The Rock and as the unlikely but effective “BlacKKKlansman.” We should remember six-foot three-inch tall actress Elizabeth Debicki from her role as the leader of the gold-colored people in “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.” Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine need no introduction. But Bollywood star Dimple Kapadia does, at least to us. I love her name but she is a very experienced actress with nearly a hundred roles beginning when she was only 16. Himesh Patel (“Yesterday”) has an Indian name too. He has a small role and was born in England.
Nolan fiddles with time in this outing. In “Inception” he fiddled with the nature of reality and dreams. In “Dunkirk” he explored telling the same story from differing points of view. Both films took the active participation of the audience. Both films scored a staggering success at the box office.
“Tenet” also demands the active participation of the audience. And the film will not let us turn away.
Truthfully, the film is so complex and convoluted that we in the seats don’t dare rip our eyes from the screen in fear that we will slip half a step behind the story and be lost. We have a scene where two bodies of allied troops attack the enemy. One band moves in regular time, the other moves backward in time. For them, bullets leave the bodies of the enemy and return to their guns. That takes some effort to keep straight in your mind what in the world is going on.
Some very critical bits of information are left out. This might seem like a mistake but this film is at heart a mystery. We don’t know who is manipulating time from the future, but we know why, or at least we think we do.
“Tenet” will go down in film history as a very big, very bold attempt at something new, which is why we love Christopher Nolan. Or it will turn out to be a $225 million mistake. I am betting on Nolan. The film is riveting.
“Tenet” has a mild PG-13 rating and runs for two hours and 30 minutes. This amazing, confusing but entertaining movie gets a solid four-sawblade rating. Nolan spent $225 million to make “Tenet.” I hope he gets his money back in this age of plague.
Michael Caine has reached his 87th year and can still make it to the set. What a guy.