Tenet may be the ultimate Christopher Nolan movie, distilling the director’s aesthetic style, storytelling conventions and thematic preoccupations down to their abstract essence. Good luck making coherent heads or tails of the film’s convoluted story about a CIA agent known only as the Protagonist (John David Washington) who teams with a shadowy colleague (Robert Pattinson) to discover the origins of bullets that, thanks to entropic “inversion,” can travel back in time. His mission leads him to a Russian arms dealer (Kenneth Branagh) and his unhappy wife (Elizabeth Debicki), although the narrative twists and turns of this would-be blockbuster – made even harder to follow by a sound mix that turns some dialogue unintelligible – are secondary to the flair of its set pieces, full of reverse bungie-jumping and skirmishes, shootouts and car chases that run simultaneously backwards and forwards. Staged on a massive scale, overflowing with nattily dressed heroes and villains, and set to an unnervingly blaring electronica score by Ludwig Göransson, it’s a temporally wonky spectacular to be experienced rather than lucidly understood.
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