Tenet hits local theaters after long wait

Tenet hits local theaters after long wait

Promised to be one of the biggest blockbuster releases of the summer, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet now enters theaters under unusual circumstances.

Tenet was slated to be a major release near the start of the summer movie season, but like every other movie, was delayed. Many studios opted to release their films on demand, but Christopher Nolan, a staunch supporter of the movie-going experience, decided it best to continuously delay the film until enough theaters were open to justify a release. Recently North Carolina has moved into Phase 3, permitting movie theaters to finally re-open, leading to the release of Tenet to North Carolina citizens.  It’s a movie that was technically released in early September, but this marks the first opportunity to view the film locally.  The film had a reported budget of around $200 million; it’s made over $300 million thus far. The release of the film has been a disorienting rollout, but it’s a gamble that’s paying off.    

Tenet is a movie that embraces confusion as Christopher Nolan puts his own unique spin on time travel, with something he dubs “inversion.” Certain things will move forwards in time, others backward. As he delves deeper into this concept, Nolan, as he is accustomed to doing in his films, cleverly adds wrinkles and makes connection. Critics often use the cliché that there are no wasted shots in a masterpiece and this most certainly applies to Tenet. Nothing in Tenet is accidental. Every shot, plot point and phrase of dialogue feels important. What’s unfortunate is that sometimes the score of the movie washes over bits of dialogue, adding unnecessary confusion to the scene.  This has been a small feature of Nolan movies for a while, most notably seen with Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.  It’s clearly a choice by Nolan, just not one that I think pays off.  

Speaking of the score, Ludwig Göransson takes the reigns and is able to masterfully produce a score that sounds “Hans Zimmer-esqe,” but is distinct enough to stand on its own. Zimmer, a frequent collaborator of Nolan’s, couldn’t work on Tenet because he chose to work on another 2020 blockbuster, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.  Luckily, the score still wound up in capable hands. 

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Lastly, my one takeaway from the film is that it is so distinctly clever.  Nolan has always been a detail-oriented individual who tinkers with complex topics to make entertaining movies, but for me personally, this one stands above the rest of his films. If you’re familiar with the theatrical concept of Chekhov’s gun, this movie cleverly plants seeds for later without you even being aware that something is happening. Because of this, the movie encourages repeated viewing as you try to pick up on the small details you missed. This film feels carefully crafted and stitched together, justifying its delays to get a proper theatrical release. Tenet is an incredibly well-constructed film that I would recommend to anyone excited to see an action movie or just enjoy the theatrical experience for the first time in seven months.

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