Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

“Tenet captures the vivid imagination; yet falls short on essential themes.”


Hello again fellow readers to another online version of Cinematic Perception. In this particular review, I will review the latest film out in theaters, “Tenet.” Note to the average viewer: if you think this is only an action packed film, then this is not the film for you. Starring John David Washington, the essential plot in the film is to prevent the world from ending by reversing time. Other than the general plot, the other half is a rather philosophical and theoretical perspective in that, if one had the power to revert time, a different perspective would arise. Seen in the film, different perspectives are vividly seen through special effects and the actions of certain characters.

To briefly reflect on the film’s release year, 2020, suffice it to say, passed the palindrome of Feb. 2, 2020, in which to spell out the actual time, one would have to reverse the year to correspond to the date and the month. The other ironic sense that this is considered a historical film piece is that the word “tenet” derives from a Rotas or Sator square, and in spelling it backwards, it is understood that the word “tenet” is still the same: thus it is classified as a palindrome. In the actual film itself, it is time that is reversed getting a deeper perspective.

With regard to the film’s positives, “Tenet” delivered creative lengths to present a palindrome story in reverse, such as special effects and important editing. Watching something explode, reanimate and explode again almost made me feel like I was watching “Transformers.” Along with Christopher Nolan’s masterful use of minimizing the camera frame, the viewer began to clearly envision what the reason of the story is all about. In addition, the film did a wonderful job of assembling action scenes that were well choreographed. Through one scene, I would find myself wondering if the main protagonist was going to kick the enemy or allow the enemy to come to him. Lastly, the film did a valid job of using music to build tension or heighten suspense of the film. There was hardly a moment in the film where I found myself tensed with excitement in seeing the film play out.

Other than the film’s limited positives, there were notable drawbacks that the film generally lacked. For starters, the main character is called “the main protagonist,” which caused the viewer to feel confused about not knowing this person’s past, history or his essential meaning in the film. True, the film carried on in a way that left the viewer achieving a philosophical idea, but there seemed to be a lack of character creativity pertaining to the main character. Diehard fans that watch various action films would understand that having a plot, one would consider the protagonist’s love interests, positives, negatives and his background. Unfortunately, the film failed to bring this into fruition. The other issue in connection to the film’s plot had to be its long pacing. Clocking over two hours and thirty minutes, the film felt like it could have gone on for another thirty minutes had there not been various scene changes involving a different point of view. Since the film is named “Tenet,” it is sensible to assume that there was more to watch over for the film, leaving the viewer to decide if watching “Tenet” a second time would provide better clarity to an unusual plot. 

Overall, “Tenet” carries with it a different sense of perspective and use of special effects but lacks on essential issues that could have made it a more proper and nuanced film. Unlike Christopher Nolan’s well known films, “Tenet” was a film that leaves the viewer thinking too heavily on essential detail. For that, I give the film two and a half out of five stars for its special effects and mixing qualities. If there is anyone that is interested in watching more Christopher Nolan films that delve into the human psyche or on drama, I suggest “Inception” or “Dunkirk”; however, for action fans, I suggest the “Dark Knight” films. Till next issue, this is Nicholas Bartelmo signing off from Cinematic Perception.


Nicholas Bartelmo is a fourth-year student majoring in history.  

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