Get ready to concentrate, Tenet is an intelligent, concept driven Christopher Nolan film. It is a James Bond esque spy caper but with a clever plot, one that requires your full, undivided attention all the time. In the future someone discovers how to invert time, and invert objects so they go backwards. The boffin who discovers the formula for this, the algorithm, fears what could happen so splits it into pieces and hides them. It is up to the CIA ‘protagonist’ (John David Washington) and Neil (Robert Pattinson) amongst others to find the algorithm before the hulking Russian villain Andrei Sator (Kenneth Brannagh).
As someone says in the film “Don’t try and understand it, just go along with it”. Which seems like a bit of a cop out but is probably for the best so you do not get a headache. Alongside the head scratching, science fiction story are utterly exhilarating action sequences, from dazzling car chases, balletic fight scenes and spectacularly odd explosions. Nolan has made the most of the premise and delivers unique, memorable and compelling action that, as is de rigeur for Bond and Mission Impossible type flicks, hops from country to country.
The music of Ludwig Goransson (Black Panther) is marvellous, even playing in reverse during certain wibbly wobbly timey wimey bits. Although at times it is too loud which, when combined with everyone talking in masks at one point, makes it difficult to hear what is being said.
Robert Pattinson is great, as is the main guy John David Washington – their chemistry and growing bromance is the best counterfoil to the chaos surrounding them. Aaron Taylor-Johnson puts in a strong performance as military man Ives, sporting an equally strong beard. Kenneth Brannagh is enigmatic as the uncaring, villainous Russian Andrei Sator – the kind of baddie you love to hate. Elizabeth Debicki is his equal as Kat, his oppressed yet fierce wife, whom she plays to a tee. Of course Michael Caine makes an appearance, he is to Nolan what Stan Lee was to marvel – he pops up everywhere and you love it when he does. Hell, his character is even called Sir Michael.
A thrilling film that mixes the espionage action of James Bond with a dazzlingly complex story ala Inception, although it is too clever for its own good. It feel like you are wading through treacle trying to comprehend it, especially with the loud music and muffled speaking combination, but when things come full circle it is very satisfying.