Tenet first reviews are in, divided critics call it ‘humorless disappointment’ and ‘grandiosely enjoyable’

The first reviews of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Tenet are in and critics are not very impressed.
Tenet stars John David Washington in the lead.
Tenet stars John David Washington in the lead.
Updated on Aug 21, 2020 10:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Entertainment Desk

The first reviews for Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction adventure Tenet are in and critics are not really blown away this time. Nolan, who is known for his grand, emotional and cerebral blockbusters, was touted to reopen the theatres with Tenet, one of the biggest, most highly anticipated movies of the year, before the coronavirus put a long pause on everything.

Fans have been keeping themselves busy trying to decode the secrets and sciences of Tenet through all these months. However, if most reviews are anything to go by, the film is rather simply understood. “That the film turns out to be more straightforward — however ornately presented — than our wildest speculation about it is quite disarming...Again, his musings are rooted more in physics than philosophy or psychology, with the film’s grabby hook — that you can change the world not by traveling through time, but inverting it — explored in terms of how it practically works, not how it makes anyone feel,” read the review in Variety.


A few critics also mentioned that the excessive extraposition can get tiring. “The film provides almost as many lines of exposition as it does flurries of bullets, with even the closing remarks of the film providing an overt explanation of the events that just transpired. It can be a bit frustrating if you’ve been paying close attention along the ride, but maybe it’s hard to fault the need. The end result, unfortunately, is a film that presents itself as more dense than it really is, off-putting for some but repetitive and predictable for those attuned the magic trick that Nolan’s attempting to pull off,” read the Slash Film review.

Indiewire review reads that there is little substance to the movie and a whole lot of noise. “The hope is Nolan can bolster that industrial process with flickers of heart, as he did sporadically in “Inception” and even 2014’s hyper-clanky “Interstellar.” With Tenet, he 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,” it read.

The Guardian’s particularly disappointed reviewer Catherine Shoard noted, “I’m not even sure that, in five years time, it’d be worth staying up to catch on telly.”

She added, “You exit the cinema a little less energised than you were going in. There’s something grating about a film which insists on detailing its pseudo-science while also conceding you probably won’t have followed a thing. We’re clobbered with plot then comforted with tea-towel homilies about how what’s happened has happened,” it read.

John David Washington’s performance brooding performance was dubbed lacklustre by many while Robert Pattinson earned points for his charming wingman act. Others such as Dimple Kapadia and Michael Caine were merely used as agents for some extra extraposition while Kenneth Branagh played the ‘hammy’ evil villain.

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput’s autopsy report surfaces online

Warner Bros. recently said that it would be offering early access screenings to Tenet starting August 31 as a gesture of support to the domestic theatres in the US that are reopening after five months of being closed because of Covid-19.

Tenet is the first major new Hollywood movie to be released in theatres since most locations shuttered in mid-March. It’s India release date has not been announced.

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