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Christopher Nolan's Tenet - Espionage Movie


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I really liked it. Better than Interstellar but worse than Inception. Loved that it’s just high concept as fuck. I enjoy the various comic book movies but this is just a level of above on ambition, so even where it does quite work it’s worth a pass. Still thought of Red Dwarf the whole time.

 

Cinema was next to empty too so that was a bonus.

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15 hours ago, Tomdominer said:

 

There was this cut where 

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they were travelling back in time in the ship container where it cut to a very similar shot, lit in a very similar way, but time had moved forwards (or backwards I guess) a number of hours and now Robert Patterson's character was awake and not lying down and sleeping but the shot looked so damn similar you really had to concentrate to even notice that time had passed.

 

 

Spoiler

I don’t think they were travelling in time, if you’re talking about the bit when they’re in the container on the ship; I think it was just time passing, sleeping and waking, as they made their way to...Oslo?

 

Reread what you said and I think we mean the same thing! I remember thinking it was a pretty clumsy segment given the context of the film!

 

Edited by Rog
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9 hours ago, Rog said:
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I don’t think they were travelling in time, if you’re talking about the bit when they’re in the container on the ship; I think it was just time passing, sleeping and waking, as they made their way to...Oslo?

 

Reread what you said and I think we mean the same thing! I remember thinking it was a pretty clumsy segment given the context of the film!

 

Yeah, I just meant that 

Spoiler

They were travelling back in time, because they were inverted after going through the chamber to heal that gun wound on Kat and heading back to meet themselves at the airport.

 

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Watched it today. I’ve really missed going to the cinema, especially for some blockbuster stuff. There were only eight people in the screening though (although it was an 11:30am showing on a work day).
 

I enjoyed the film, even though I felt like I should have RTFM before going in. :blink:Definitely one for a re-watch to try and piece it together better.

 

The sound was very loud, but I didn’t struggle to hear the dialogue, certainly not in the same way I did when watching Westworld on Sky Atlantic, where I had to turn on the subtitles to understand most of it.

 

 

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What is this about? The trailers don’t seem to care about mentioning that. I’m generally of the opinion that Nolan is overrated, but I do like some of his movies. Is this similar to any of the others?

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3 hours ago, Broker said:

What is this about? The trailers don’t seem to care about mentioning that. I’m generally of the opinion that Nolan is overrated, but I do like some of his movies. Is this similar to any of the others?

It’s a James Bond film where some of the characters are travelling in the opposite direction in time. Sometimes.

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Just out the cinema. 

 

I really don't know what to make of it. I have far too many questions and I can't rate it because it's fucking baffling. 

 

I feel I could maybe love the film with repeat viewings but right now....I'm not sure. 

 

Also, the sound mixing was all over the place and that opening, fucking hell it genuinely hurt my ears. Loudest opening/scene I have ever experienced. 

 

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The story/idea has the potential to be excellent and interesting. The way it is presented to the viewer is atrocious. 

 

It doesn't have to be this way. The Matrix made an interesting concept clear and concise. This makes an interesting concept baffling and confusing. 

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22 minutes ago, Fierce Poodle said:

The key to enjoying it is not to overthink it, just go with it and have fun. Unless you get a kick out of overthinking things, in which case knock yourself out.

 

Well, I do try to understand the story which is being told. In this day and age, perhaps this is classed as overthinking the movie. 

 

Should just be enjoying the noises and explosions. 

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What is it with Nolan and the way he completely neuters the impact of big set pieces and story developments with sloppy, hastily editing and bad cinematography? 
 

It’s also baffling to me that, after the wonderful cerebral thrillers from the start of his career, he now has made so many films with bland and badly executed action sequences, because they’re obviously not his expertise at all.
 

Up until the highway chase Tenet was primarily stuffed with his signature hasty exposition dumps at their worst, but from that point onwards things did become more intriguing I have to say. I didn’t mind the fact that it remained hard to get your head around the central concept and its workings, because the complexity and confusion nicely mirrors the experience of the protagonist. I much prefer this to the way Inception needlessly devoted so much time to explain every single detail. 
 

The glory days of Following, Memento and Insomnia are long gone but this wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared when going in and after the first hour or so. But it would be great if Nolan would get a second unit director for his hand to hand choreography and stops editing his films like trailers. 

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11 hours ago, McCoy said:

The story/idea has the potential to be excellent and interesting. The way it is presented to the viewer is atrocious. 

 

It doesn't have to be this way. The Matrix made an interesting concept clear and concise. This makes an interesting concept baffling and confusing. 

 

I think this sums it up for me. I'm a big Nolan fan and keep telling myself it's ME that has the issue not understanding it, I want to think it all makes sense.

 

But, nah. Having a day to digest it and think about it I feel it's poorly told and explained. 

 

I have seen countless films with more complex ideas and ideas built around the film that some would say confusing but they told a coherent story and rewarded the viewer for paying attention and not being dumbed down (Primer comes to mind)

 

But the core script is the issue here. There's far too many unanswered questions for it to make sense whatsoever. 

 

Safe to say, I will be leaving this out of my Nolan collection. It's his weakest film by far and maybe the biggest disappointment I have experienced in cinema in the last 20 years. 

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12 hours ago, McCoy said:

 

Well, I do try to understand the story which is being told. In this day and age, perhaps this is classed as overthinking the movie. 

 

Should just be enjoying the noises and explosions. 

 

The actual story is very straightforward though, and not difficult to follow. It's all the time bending stuff which fucks with your mind - whether there is any actual depth to this or if it's just smoke and mirrors will probably reveal itself (or not) over several viewings.

 

Anyway, I loved it and it was great to be back in the cinema again. Whether you like Nolan or not, there aren't too many other directors doing this sort of thing for mainstream audiences. Not sure how people are saying the action sequences were poorly executed, the highway scene was fucking ace!

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14 hours ago, McCoy said:

The story/idea has the potential to be excellent and interesting. The way it is presented to the viewer is atrocious. 

 

It doesn't have to be this way. The Matrix made an interesting concept clear and concise. This makes an interesting concept baffling and confusing. 

 

I don't know about that. I mean, having two people in the same scene travelling in different directions in time must be hard to convey. I mean, he made a heist movie about travelling down into four dream layers extremely easy to digest and understand, so part of me does think that it was a tough concept to film / show. That said, I was definitely wanting more "Inception exposition dumps" myself. Just someone with a clip board going "ok, this is why we are doing this bit", because that was what I felt was missing. Its almost like he took all the inception exposition criticism to heart, so left it out this time...

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I saw it last night - very confusing, almost comically, obnoxiously so at times. But I really enjoyed it. Absolutely felt like Nolan took all the criticisms aimed at his movies and dialled them up to eleventy-stupid. 
 

I don’t know know if I can say it was his best or worst movie because I didn’t really understand what happened. I think emotionally and thematically it makes sense but logically speaking I have no clue. It definitely invites comparisons with Inception but it’s not nearly as tight and well executed as that. 
 

My only big complaint - awful mask-talking aside - is that having Chuckles Branagh as the bad guy didn’t really work for me. Apart from that one brutal beat-down he gives I just don’t buy him as a villain - those crow’s feet around the eyes don’t lie. 

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I’m just out from seeing this and while I totally get the comments about the dialogue at times and the sometimes aggressive audio track I thought it was absolutely spectacular. Not from a traditional action set piece perspective, because that is never Nolans strength, not does he attempt it. But the way in which it builds up the core theme of the movie, to an absolutely glorious conclusion.

 

Washington was class but Pattison was just incredible and delighted to see Aaron Taylor Johnson appear in a really solid role after not even knowing he was in it.

 

It goes even further than Inception with its mind bending madness and clearly seems to be disappointing a lot of people but this is up there with The Dark Knight and Inception for me. Absolutely fantastic experience on the IMAX as well after a horrendous break from the cinema. Fucking magical!

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This didn’t do it for me, I was really disappointed.

 

For context I suppose I’m bit of a Nolan fanboy - I go see his stuff on big screen IMAX, have the 4K box set, etc.  Interstellar, that I understand is a somewhat maligned Nolan movie, is one of my all-time faves, though I prefer The Prestige.


Assumption (deduction? ;)) time:

Tenet comes across a product of the earlier rumour of Nolan being attached to Bond, with Nolan desperate to stamp his mark on that franchise by way of a central new gimmick (to shake up Bond movies’ scenario planning and make it a more equal component of the offer in relation to characters and other elements). Then when ‘007 x Nolan’ didn’t happen, he decided to make use of what he had.

The above - plus Nolan’s growing power vs. Warner Bros. in light of his successes, meant that studio notes which could have helped the movie were not offered or implemented.

 

This film suffers from:

- having simultaneously too much yet too little exposition

- the smart gimmick combined with the dumb tropey story comes off as insincere - ‘fake smarts’ and a cynical attempt to get you to ‘buy twice’. That this juxtaposition is so jarring is a barrier to disbelief suspension as well

- a lack of heart. I didn’t care much for the goodies, etc., it was taking so much effort to make you think it was clever that it forgot to make you feel very much

- a rationale of the antagonist that’s difficult to buy into

- absolutely dreadful treatment of women.  Again, that the film is trying to shake things up in some ways yet keeps this sort of shit in, is creating a jarring effect and not suspending disbelief

- etc.

 

It’s worth a watch but don’t go out of your way to venture to the cinema for it, especially if you have any Covid-related concerns.

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Some spoiler type thoughts.

 

Spoiler

 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen time travel being so physically visual in a movie before and it actually made me think about THAT bit in Titanfall 2 where you switch between 2 timelines as you fight. What it must have taken to film the heavily inverted scenes is probably a lot simpler than I would expect but I’m not sure any other Director could have pulled it off. Either in terms of the ambition / confidence to fully commit to the concept or the technical capability to visually represent it on screen.

 

@Grobbelboy mentioned above the highway heist being a bit of a turning point and considering the whole movie now I think that was very deliberate. It’s the first time the Protagonist (referring to himself in the third person more and more as he works out that he is actually working for himself, fucking loved that and will call him P from now on) is inverted and if like me you are fully invested in what’s happening by that point then it leads to some proper “fuck yes” moments. Both in terms of concepts clicking into place and how brilliantly the action then plays out.

 

Its the finer details of inversion that are going to make repeat viewings rewarding though. Like, the arm injury P has that works backward in severity to the point where his past self stabs him and then it’s healed. Or the multiple moments in the final battle as both teams coordinate (wall rebuilding itself to kill a guy and simultaneous rockets to the building from both teams, I mean WTF). It’s all fairly basic action that plays out in the conventional timeline but layering the inverted action over and through it makes for something quite special. 
 

Im not sure it was Nolan’s intention to establish something that will quite clearly have WB clamouring for a sequel or an expanded universe but this is a rare occasion where I would love to see the studio get their wish. Seeing more of a fully clued up and experienced P on his adventures with Neil would be wonderful. Plus, it would also let Nolan add a little to what I felt was the only plot point that needed more focus. Neils sacrifice.

 

I knew it was Neil that took the shot for P as soon as he uninverts (not a real word) himself but I thought his conventional timeline actions would lead to unlocking the gate and taking the hit. But as we only see events from the perspective of the P we meet at the start we never see Neil at the start of that inverted path. It’s my only criticism of the plot, that Neils sacrifice is robbed of a lot of its weight because we and P only see the final moments of it. So while it’s consistent with the perspective and mechanics of the movie it strips away a lot of the emotion from what could have been a really powerful moment. Nolan would no doubt argue, why would there be emotion because at that point P has really only just met Neil, which is fine but if that’s the case then he is sacrificing the viewers attachment at Neil as a character in favour of the technical consistency of his movie. But then Nolan has been increasingly guilty of that throughout his movies.

 

 

It might take several viewings for people to fully grasp everything going on in Tenet. I know I need them. While for some it’s just going to always feel like self indulgent wanky nonsense. But if we don’t have Director’s like Nolan and films like Tenet then where does the radical thinking come from, because without it the future looks like a whole lot of conventional expanded universes and very little inverted progression :)

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@Triple A I completely agree with the lack of emotion and that some aspects toward the end don’t land quite as well as they should as a result, but I’m curious as to what parts of the more technical aspects are not as clever as it thinks?

 

PM if you can be arsed to avoid spoiler related stuff as I’m conscious it’s going to be quite a while before most people get to see this given the current situation and the standard spoiler protocol probably isn’t going to cut it. Plus don’t want to saturate the thread with spoiler tags :)

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It would have been clever if it landed the aspects I mentioned as negatives, despite the challenge to them as posed by the high concept gimmick.

I thought that Interstellar trod the line between science and sentiment much better than this.

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Yeah, my point is I thought the ‘smart gimmick’ landed perfectly. 
 

Spoiler

On the scenes that play out from two perspectives I thought these were fantastic. Especially the second time round when P is inverted and, like him, what plays out actually makes so much more sense and as a result adds so much to those events. The highway chase especially, from both perspectives it was incredible and by the end of the second perspective on it I was like, YES!!!

 

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Saw it yesterday  . Quite a clever film the way it ties everything together without any of the usual time travel paradox stuff ( although this isn’t strictly speaking time travel ) . Had some issues hearing dialogue but mostly got it all . Loved the soundtrack , and some great sequences. 
i need to see it again , but I’ll wait for the 4k release . 

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