Critics’ Corner Film Review: Tenet



Spencer Conrad, Staff Reporter, Freshman

On September 9, Tenet was released in theaters and on December 15 it was available for digital purchase in the United States. This film is great for many age groups, specifically teenagers and up, as it focuses a lot on action elements seen in other popular culture media that applies to that age demographic. This film is directed by the esteemed Christopher Nolan, known for famous movies such as Inception (2011), The Batman Trilogy, Interstellar (2014), and many other works. He is known for twists and deep story lines, and this film, despite its action, is no different. The movie had many great filming locations that looked identical to where they really are; for example, the opera house in the beginning of the movie was not filmed in Kyiv but in Sweden. 

Nolan’s Tenet has an interesting plot, appealing to a diverse group of people. The main character, aptly named The Protagonist, goes through many difficult encounters with the main villain, Andrei Sator, in order to stop a worldwide catastrophe. He visits places like Mumbai, London, Oslo, and many others to try to figure out what is happening and how to stop it. The main motif of this film is time travel, as it affects characters in many ways. It also had a very interesting type of villain, as the antagonist was working under an entity not really present in the film. The film opens with the Kyiv Opera siege, which has foreshadowing elements spread across the whole event . Later on, it is explained that in the future, the Earth is polluted so much that rivers dry up and oceans overflow. This shows the Earth is on a clear course to destruction if nothing happens. This theme behind the action is an interesting choice by Nolan. There are many compelling fights and memorable scenes in the movie that show the creativity that Nolan applies in his films. Eventually, The Protagonist travels back in time and the climax of the movie begins when they have to stop a doomsday device. Overall, the film was great with many action packed scenes that anyone could enjoy.

Nolan’s choice of characters really affected the drive of the story. John David Washington was an excellent choice as one of the main characters. It will hopefully shift Hollywood toward types of movies with better equality among all key positions in the movie. Another interesting point in casting is the role of women in this movie. Elizabeth Debicki was a phenomenal actor when playing one of the main roles. She played Kat Sator and her presence demonstrated how every role is important to the story.

Nolan’s choice of music was fascinating as he forewent his usual composer, Hans Zimmer, and instead worked with Ludwig Goransson. Goransson is best known for the popular score of The Mandalorian. Despite many complaints about the loud music over the words, I personally did not have this problem. I found the blend between the two to be just right and important at the same time. The music sets the mood of how the scene is supposed to be seen and matches with the fighting. 

Tenet is an award winning masterpiece. With views of time, characters, action, and music it is a must see for those who enjoy Nolan’s work, or those who just have the time. It combines the values of society today with science subtly mixed in,  and it is a fun test to take on how much one’s mind can comprehend.