Tenet

By | January 8, 2021

I watched Tenet last night. It’s confusing. I watched a YouTube video to clarify it. In the process of explaining it, they showed the scene where The Protagonist is in the first inversion room, dodging the bullets that cause the holes he sees when he first enters it. Of course, we later understand that it is his inverted self that is trying to shoot him.

Why?

Why is The Protagonist trying to kill his former self — when he knows this is his former self — and risk making himself disappear?

In my old age, I’m convinced that time-travel movies just never work.

OK, except for Primer, but that’s more of a time-dilation movie, rather than time travel.

Or maybe Time Cop (despite JCVD, and it’s budget), which actually gets time travel right.

Or 12 Monkeys, which is one of the best movies ever made.

OK, never mind. I guess it’s possible to make a good movie involving time travel. But Tenet isn’t one of them, despite what the Tomatometer says.

UPDATE: Another YouTube video says that The Protagonist was shooting at himself to empty the gun, and render it safe, citing his disassembly at the end of the sequence (which, by the way, is a lot freaking harder to do with a Glock than shown in the movie).

That’s a good explanation, but, like so many other things in the movie, you’d need to stop the movie and think about it to understand it. That’s not the mark of a good movie. The movie should explain itself. If you’re going to put a sequence in the film, you need to give the watcher enough info to understand why this is happening, in the context of the sequence, especially in a purposely-mind-bending movie like Tenet.

I just think Christopher Nolan started believing his own hype on this one. It’s a good story, but just a little more exposition, a little more emotion from The Protagonist, and slowing the whole thing down to give people a chance to absorb it — cut some action, if you need to — would have made this a far better movie.

UPDATE: JWZ, with whom I usually agree on reviews, excoriates Tenet is his usual, brilliant fashion:

Tenet: I remember that sinking feeling when they finally found the MacGuffin. “Fuck, that means it’s only half over??”You know how they say Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person? This movie is a stupid person’s idea of clever. Much like Inception. I mean, Bill and Ted 3 had better use of its cosmology. The camera tricks with the backwards fights weren’t even any good, or even comprehensible. And a backwards person sitting in a forwards car makes it backward? The stupid, it burns like inexplicable frostbite.

 

This movie was better when it was the Sugar Water video by Cibo Matto, which was mercifully only 4 minutes long. And had better physics.

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