It’d been 9 months since I breathed the pleasantly stuffy air inside a cinema screen. Surprisingly when I made my trip to the theatre this morning, neither was I hyped up for it, nor did any sort of excitement manifest inside my head or on my face. I guess that’s what the lockdown and quarantine have done to some of us. Life has become clinical, very matter-of-fact while dealing with a new everything. I’m currently overwhelmed by how the return of a bygone pleasure didn’t overwhelm me, than by that return itself.

As I continue to process this mental state, Christopher Nolan has continued his tryst with the meddling of time. With Tenet, he deals with a future generation discovering inversion of time and trying to exterminate one from the past for screwing up our planet — or at least that’s what I understood from one of the various blasts of exposition throughout the film. If that’s been a recurring problem with Nolan, he has also had drama to compensate for the far-reaching concepts. Drama that dealt with themes of hope, survival and love. In Tenet, drama is barely centrestage, and the concept seems to supersede everything else.

Our oddly charmingly protagonist is a nameless CIA agent, almost a stand-in for everyone of us trying to wrap ourselves around this concept. But we never get his story. What’s his life about, what are his personal stakes in this story? The progressing concern he has for Kat makes sense in the plot, but the attachment isn’t felt. Eventually Kat becomes The Protagonist’s stake, and that doesn’t help much to make us invest ourselves in his journey. Even the save-the-world urgency isn’t shown, but only told. As much as the concept is fun, and looks threatening, scaling the visual exposition up a notch might have helped in establishing how inverted objects and collaterals can actually become a recipe for annihilation of the entire world. But the set-pieces we already have here are fun enough while they last. We do get Nolan’s signature ingredients – parallel action, an IMAX action sequence to begin, gracefully cocky characters, etc. Ludwig Göransson’s pitches in with a pumping score that always results in a surge in the weight of the action sequences.

There’s a line that goes “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” – I wish I could confidently attribute this statement to the film itself, but the feelings department in here is lacking. So if you’re not going to mind the dearth of drama and emotional connect, this will be a fun ride, provided you also pay attention to the world building and verbal explanation.


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