‘Tenet’ is Christopher Nolan’s most complex film yet


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Elizabeth Debicki, left, and John David Washington in a scene from “Tenet.” (Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

By Jacob Baker

Revolutionary filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, known for his unique blend of blockbuster and art house cinema has proved yet again why he is one of the smartest minds in modern day filmmaking with his eleventh film “Tenet.” It was released worldwide Thursday.

The film follows a nameless CIA agent played by John David Washington who is tasked with preventing World War III through time manipulation.

Time has been a major theme in Nolan’s discography since his 1998 directorial debut “Following.” Ever since, Nolan has made complex films through the theme of time with films like “Memento” and “Interstellar.” It can be argued “Tenet” is by far Nolan’s most complex and layered film yet. 

“Tenet” is going to be a film that will be dissected for decades to come and will undoubtedly have a visible impact on the genre of thriller and spy films. Nolan keeps the viewer guessing at every turn.  Just when the viewer thinks they have it figured out, Nolan throws another wrinkle into the film that makes it even more clever through the concept of time inversion. 

The action scenes are a wildly impressive accomplishment for Nolan, the crew and the cast. The action flows beautifully. The kicker to it all is that there’s action scenes and interrogation scenes that are filmed and edited both going forward and in reverse. Washington is included in almost every one of these scenes, most intriguing being a one-on-one fight inside an airport vault. 

Nolan takes it one step higher in the latter half of the film with a grand action set piece that goes both forward and backwards as well. This aspect of the film may be confusing to some but above all, Nolan took a massive risk and leap in creativity and filmmaking.

One of the biggest complements of Nolan’s films is the suspense and the building of tension by making the stakes of the film larger and larger with every passing scene. Every scene is filled with existential timers that the characters are trying to conquer.

Some big players that helped Nolan achieve that unrelenting suspense and tension were Ludwig Göransson, the film’s composer. Göransson’s score is fast-paced chaos that perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of “Tenet.” David Washington and the character Neil played by Robert Pattinson must partake in a petroleum heist, and while the action alone makes it chaotic as one can imagine, Göransson’s piece “TRUCKS IN PLACE” tips the scale to a hundred with its industrial and doomy atmosphere. 

The film provided a terrific opportunity to see some of the best current actors and actresses in Nolan’s new vision. David Washignton and Pattinson have a ridiculous amount of chemistry and charisma in their respective roles, and it just makes the film so much more engaging. 

The character Kat is played by Elizabeth Debicki, and Debicki goes above and beyond to make her character and her conflicts as impactful as possible. The villain of the film, Andrei Sator, played by Kenneth Branagh, succeeds at providing the best details that go into being a memorable villain. Branagh is menacing, has a unique backstory and always has the upperhand on the film’s protagonists. 

“Tenet” is just another well-crafted brick in the road for Nolan’s impressive filmography that will change the spy and thriller genre for decades to come. From it’s astonishing opening to it’s remarkable conclusion, “Tenet” dominates in every facet of filmmaking.