Time has run out. Yes, after months of impossible impossibilities that have come to fruition and much debate over how the film world will deal with re-opening after a globe-changing 2020 so far, the big one is being unleashed. Dubbed the saviour of cinema, Christopher Nolan was adamant his film be shown on the big screen (the $205million price tag also made this inevitable) and after months of date changes and the overuse of the term “coming to theatres”, Tenet is here and, to be ridiculously clichéd, we can shout from the rooftops that it was well worth the wait. But – pause for dramatic effect – there is a but…

Like Christian Bale’s Alfred Borden warned us in 2006’s The Prestige that “secrets are my life”, so is true of Nolan and the brand he has created for himself in keeping things so close to his chest that they might burst through his ribcage and out the other side. Heck, even his lucky charm Sir Michael Caine was told nothing of the film aside from his role, so we will keep schtum also. Suffice it to say, Tenet scratches all of Nolan’s itches – thrills, spills, action, spectacle, IMAX, film, espionage, and more – all on his biggest and broadest canvas yet.

Time, as you shall see, plays a big part again in his latest opus but with Tenet he is hellbent on trying to change it – our relationship with it, how we use it, how we waste it – but we mustn’t say too much more. What we can: John David Washington (superb) is our protagonist through this whirlwind, maze-like story. With the help of the magnificent Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki, he is entrusted in stopping Russian arms dealer Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh, menacing but irksomely hammy) from inciting World War III. The how, why, what, and indeed when are for you to discover but as ever, the journey is best enjoyed as blind as possible.


Ever drawing on his love of Bond and the grand scale entertainments that he loved as a kid – Spielberg, Lucas, Kubrick, et al – Nolan crafts another expansive, vast, engrossing film that is as extraordinary (maybe even more so) than anything he has crafted before, delivering some feats of imagination, craftsmanship and sheer majesty the likes of which he himself couldn’t have dreamed of executing so precisely and so beautifully. He dared, though, and he has delivered an extraordinary exercise in the power and magic of the cinema, ably supported by Hoyte van Hoytema’s lush, piercing visuals and Ludwig Göransson’s spellbinding score.

Now, the but. Nolan has always wanted the audience on his level: he believes you to be as smart as he is, constructing his rich narratives so that you ask questions – of the film, of yourselves and of himself – with answers difficult but not impossible to find. Tenet is his riskiest film in that regard as its complexities and nuances are such that it is, on first viewing at least, a little hard to follow and some will struggle, more so than ever. But that’s his trick: he pulls you in knowing just enough to follow the story but holding back so that it demands a second, third, fourth viewing. Each time more riddles but more revelations follow in kind.

For cinema lovers, old or young, that is what we thrive on – stories that challenge us, that move us, confuse us and, yes, baffle us but just as the movie-going experience has been put in some jeopardy it’s refreshing to know it’s still the best art form there is and Nolan artist extraordinaire.