Wednesday, September 9, 2020


A secret agent embarks on a dangerous, time-bending mission to prevent the start of World War III.
It seems clear that Christopher Nolan's got James Bond and Mission Impossible on the mind. His latest action thriller clearly pulls from those franchises as we follow his protagonist forwards and backwards in time and around the world on his dangerous mission.

I was excited about going to this movie because (a) Christopher Nolan, (b) back to a more normal life, (c) support the theater/movie industry. Unfortunately it wound up being another 2020 disappointment.

It pains me to admit this is not a great film. The performances are top notch. The action sequences are good, especially ones with the airplane and highway heist. However, this was offset by a very difficult sci-fi concept that wasn't explained well enough and was really hard to understand visually even once I did have a fairly firm grasp of the idea. (I felt like telling Nolan to rewatch Inception for "how to do it").

Also, the plot itself was confusing and with very little cohesive story itself, other than finding the MacGuffin. Alfred Hitchcock made many wonderful movies with nothing more than that pushing the plot but he always gave us something to care about in the character's life or situation. James Bond and Mission Impossible movies give us fairly little personal motivation but they are always very clear in explaining the villain's evil plan and what the heck is going on.

Nolan gives us nothing more than "the cleverness of me." It felt as if he was so enchanted by his sci-fi concept that it was all he could focus on. And guess what — that wasn't enough for me. Or my viewing companions.

Most egregious was that the sound mixing made a lot of the dialogue incomprehensible. When you've got a really hard concept to get across it is always so much easier if the audience can the dialogue at all. Or even if all you want to do is to help them understand why you are flinging yourself around the world for dangerous missions.
There is a wonderful exchange in Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Tenet, between Robert Pattinson and John David Washington. “Hngmmhmmh,” says Pattinson. “Mmghh nmmhhmmmm nghhh,” replies Washington. Marvellous.

This is how much of Tenet sounded to viewers in cinemas. The film’s dialogue has been criticised by reviewers and audience members for often being impossible to make out. Given how hard Nolan’s blockbuster would be to understand even if all the dialogue was crystal-clear, it is curious that the director has made it doubly difficult to hear the story of a screenplay he supposedly spent five years writing.
I'd think the one thing you don't want the people leaving your movie to talk about for five minutes is how none of them could understand the dialogue. But sound mixing was our topic all the way to the parking lot.

On the bright side, the movie theater was bending over backwards to welcome everyone back, although there were only a few other people at our Saturday matinee. Of course, it was showing in at least 10 other theaters in the same complex so maybe everyone was spread out.

1 comment:

  1. Bummer! I was looking forward to this. Our local theaters still haven't reopened and this sounds like it's not worth driving far to see. I guess I'll be borrowing the DVD from the library in 6-8 months.