Tenet review round-up: Christopher Nolan's tentpole 'dazzles' but 'does not move the heart'

Christopher Nolan's Tenet is awaiting its release in 70 countries on 26 August, and will arrive in US cinemas on 3 September.

FP Trending August 22, 2020 11:25:23 IST
Tenet review round-up: Christopher Nolan's tentpole 'dazzles' but 'does not move the heart'

Christopher Nolan's highly-anticipated directorial Tenet is set to arrive in more than 70 countries on Wednesday, 26 August. The $200 million thriller will open in the US about a week later on Thursday, 3 September.

Early reviews of the espionage thriller have been released, and critics seemed to have been disappointed with the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps strictly ever since its announcement. Review aggregator platform Rotten Tomatoes displays 79 percent likability from a total of 42 reviews.

Tenet review roundup Christopher Nolans tentpole dazzles but does not move the heart

A still from Tenet | Image from Twitter @getFANDOM

John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Dimple Kapadia, Clémence Poésy, Himesh Patel, Nolan favourite Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh make up the principal cast of Tenet.

Here is what critics have to say about Tenet

Nicholas Barber of the BBC gives it a three star rating and writes : "Tenet is a Bond film which squeezed Back to the Future 2 and Edge of Tomorrow into its last half-hour and collapses under the collective weight of all the concepts and numerous plot lines that have been stuffed into the narrative."

IndieWire's Mike McCahill's review of the film is not flattering either. He says that the plot lacks substance and with his Tenet the director "is ever more caught up in his own machinations: Nolan deploys his actors like spokespeople, appointed to field and deflect queries from his client base." While Nolan established himself as an "artisanal puzzlemaker" in Memento and Insomnia, "here he seems more like a businessman and a brand."

Catherine Shoard of The Guardian rates Tenet with just two stars and criticised Pattinson's character as "some bloke who’s got drunk in Banana Republic’s scarf department." Shoard commends the action sequences of the film, she notes "You exit the cinema a little less energised than you were going in." She further writes that "for all the nifty bits of reverse chronology, there’s little that lingers in the imagination in the same way as Inception or even Interstellar’s showcase bendy business."

Anna Smith of Deadline also gives Tenet a not-so-favourable review, writing that the film will be favoured mostly by passionate Nolan fans. She lauds Washington and Pattinson's performances: "His everyman quality serves him well, and he’s as good in the fast-paced action scenes as he is bonding with Pattinson’s Neil, who brings a light, genteel touch: These two could both compete to play rather different James Bonds."

She concludes, "It may be hard to find Tenet’s dense sci-fi concept truly exciting on first viewing—frankly, there is so much else going on demanding your attention. But it is easy to sit back and revel in the wonder of the big-screen experience, and to immediately want to see the film again. And again. Those who love the challenge set by a complex audio visual puzzle will be well served—and with little else major to compete at the box office, time is on their side."

New York Times' critic Jessica Kiang says that Tenet "dazzles" but "does not move the heart." "Seek it out, if only to marvel at the entertainingly inane glory of what we once had and are in danger of never having again. Well, that and the suits," she states.

Adam Woodward for Little White Lies says that the basic storyline and structure of the film are "straightforward". He notes, "If Nolan has out-Nolaned himself, it’s in the action set-pieces which, despite being of head-scrambling technical intricacy, are sharper than Occam’s razor and carried off with astonishing economy. He may be stuck in a thematic loop, but Nolan continues to push the craft of in-camera special effects forward, once again engineering immersive, seat-shaking spectacle in crisp 70mm widescreen."

 

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