After several arduous months and numerous delays, director Christopher Nolan has finally succeeded in bringing his new movie Tenet to the big screen.
It’s cloaked in mystery, and we’re not about to give away any plot specifics here. Needless to say, it stars BlacKkKlansman’s John David Washington on a globe-trotting journey to prevent global annihilation via ‘time-inversion’. Like we said, we’re not spilling any secrets.
With its all-star cast and handsome IMAX cinematography, all captured on a huge $205 million budget, Tenet is poised to make amends for a flatlining non-summer season. Here are five non-spoilery things that will get your pulse racing.
1. The action sequences are like nothing you’ve ever seen
Empty words? Not on your life. Nolan has always been a technical pioneer, from shooting with IMAX cameras in The Dark Knight and others, to the creation of a scientifically accurate black hole in Interstellar.
He refuses to let the side down in Tenet, with action sequences shot once going forwards, and then again going backwards. These are then spliced together in one sequence to create an appropriately disorienting blur of movement and physics – it’s the sort of arresting spectacle for which the big screen was made. Imagine the theatrics of a Jason Bourne movie fused with contemporary dance, but, you know, backwards, and you still won’t have an idea of what to expect.
2. Robert Pattinson steals the show
Let’s face it: we can finally stop referring to Robert Pattinson as “him from Twilight”. Excellent performances in the likes of Good Time and The Lighthouse have already put paid to that. And in 2021, Pattinson further banishes Edward Cullen with his debut as The Batman.
But before we get there, we’ve got his role in Tenet to savour. Pattinson plays Neil, the raffish sidekick to Washington’s unnamed central character, a soft-spoken and immaculately attired Englishman (full credit to Jeffrey Kurland’s costume designs) with a sideline in wry humour and chiffon scarves. In this noisy movie, very often it’s Pattinson’s gentle witticisms that resound the loudest.
3. Composer Ludwig Goransson more than fills the Hans Zimmer-sized gap
For the first time since 2006’s The Prestige, Nolan isn’t working with composer Hans Zimmer. The Oscar-winning musician brought infamous booms and bwahs to scores such as Inception, and developed a house style for Nolan that often approximates industrial, shifting tones in place of something organic.
It’s therefore little surprise that incoming composer Ludwig Goransson (who an Oscar for Marvel’s Black Panther) approximates this tone with his debut Nolan score. However, Goransson has always been an experimentalist, as his collaborations with Childish Gambino prove, not to mention his work on the Creed films. His pulsating electronica creates an appropriately disorienting and pulse-pounding soundscape, ebbing and flowing like the volatile pattern of entropy at the heart of the storyline.
4. It’ll give you immediate holiday envy
Interstellar and Dunkirk cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema returns to drink in a ravishing assortment of global locations. From Villa Cimbrione in Ravello on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, to the towering skyscrapers of Mumbai and the wavelashed waters of the Nordic countries, Tenet truly is a movie painted on a global scale.
It’s surely enough to make you pine for the big wide world from which so many of us have shut away over the last few months. As with his previous movies for Nolan, Hoytema shoots the movie on IMAX cameras for added immersion, giving a profound sense of a world under threat from a dire plot.
5. John David Washington cements himself as an A-lister
In Spike Lee’s terrific BlacKkKlansman, actor John David Washington burst onto the screen as a police detective with an axe to grind. Taking the hatchet to the local Ku Klux Klan collective, Washington’s character Ron Stallworth was ballsy and immediately likeable.
The young star showcased the charisma of his famous father Denzel, and said charisma is on display again in Tenet, the first blockbuster that Washington has led on his own. With his sharp suits, commitment to doing his own stunts and steady gaze, Washington emerges as a proto-James Bond, one who’s also very handy with a cheese grater during a fight scene. Yes, you did read that correctly.