REVIEW: ‘Tenet’ will stretch your perception of reality

REVIEW: ‘Tenet’ will stretch your perception of reality
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John David Washington in Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet.' (Warner Bros.)
REVIEW: ‘Tenet’ will stretch your perception of reality
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The 'Tenet' poster is worth examining for those wanting to learn more about the plot.
REVIEW: ‘Tenet’ will stretch your perception of reality
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John David Washington (left) and Robert Pattinson in Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet.'
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Updated 28 August 2020

REVIEW: ‘Tenet’ will stretch your perception of reality

REVIEW: ‘Tenet’ will stretch your perception of reality
  • Nolan's latest mind-bending thriller is visually stunning

DUBAI: After being postponed three times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, “Tenet,” has finally hit cinemas.

As is the case with most of Nolan's films, plot details were kept to a minimum before release, and we're not going to put any spoilers in here, but we will say this: The poster provides a few clues, and not just the fact that the name is a palindrome. 

Like Nolan’s other productions, including “Inception,” “Memento,” and “Interstellar,” “Tenet” plays with our perception of time, space, memory and reality — incorporating mind-boggling ideas and visuals. This is not a dumbed-down blockbuster movie. If you enjoy a good puzzle, then “Tenet” might be a welcome bright spot in 2020.

The story is based around an American CIA agent, played by the excellent John David Washington, who is sent on a mission to Ukraine to steal an unidentified object. However, it’s what happens after the mission that matters. Washington’s character is recruited by a secret organization called Tenet to “save the world” and assigned to a handler named Neil (Robert Pattinson).

Members of the Tenet organization use a specific hand gesture to communicate. What are they trying to prevent? Who set up the organization and recruited members? To find the answers you might have to watch the movie with a notepad in hand. Beware though, you will regret taking your eyes off the screen even for a few seconds. The narrative is paced brilliantly, and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. As a bonus, you get to do some virtual travelling too — the film was shot in the US, the UK, India, Estonia, Italy, Norway and Denmark.

Visually — it almost goes without saying, since Nolan is directing — “Tenet” is a triumph. One car chase in particular stands out; shot from a low angle, it feels as though the cars are about to come through the screen at you.

However, “Tenet” is not without its flaws. Kenneth Brannagh’s bad guy — Russian oligarch Andrei Sator — is an unwelcome island of predictability in the midst of Nolan’s inventiveness: A one-dimensional, stereotypical pantomime villain who drags the film down.

Still, there’s much to admire here, and “Tenet” is well worth the price of a ticket to see on the big screen.