Lost (specifically, season 5) meets Primer but with 100x the budget. Something tells me this will become better over time once I consume all of the “Tenet Explained” videos, made by people way smarter than me. Not a perfect film, though.
For starters, Branagh, while great, is in a totally different movie. Perhaps by design, his performance skews more traditional cartoon Bond villain, robbing him of any real menace or nuance. By contrast, Washington, Pattinson, and Debicki are all excellent, each displaying enough vulnerability – and mystery – to have me invested in their arcs.
Also, the first half is more interested in getting to the (amazing) set pieces rather than concern itself with plot or character development. However, once the machinations of the time inversion conceit are revealed about halfway, I was hooked.
I also appreciate that Nolan isn’t overly concerned with the minutiae of heists, a la Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy, for example, but would rather just get on with it. While some may see the hand waving in Tenet as lazy, I don’t need to know how certain details will unfold via a montage, only to then watch them play out again. The world building is sufficient enough that I forgive Nolan for eschewing many expository scenes in favour of spectacle.
I saw Tenet in IMAX with two other people present (all socially distant) and boy what a treat. A near private screening, no discernible green screen, practical effects, a pounding score by Ludwig Goransson, and sumptuous 70mm detail of real-world locations. What a concept!