TENET is too pretentious and that too at the wrong places. (Movie rant)
TLDR: How about saving time and the spectacular visuals for the necessary things next time?
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
-The theoretical physicist.
Heavy spoilers ahead.
‘Because their oceans rose and their rivers ran dry. Don’t you see? They have no option but to turn back.’
It blew my mind. The future generations are clearing the earth for them to live backward towards the past. So that is the problem they are fixing. Now we have to talk about the visually spectacular scenes in the movie.
1. A 747 crashing into FREEPORT
It is clear that the movie takes pride in doing that with the dialog ‘That part is little dramatic’. It did not feel dramatic to me on watching that on-screen as it is not uncommon in Hollywood movies. But, it felt dramatic when I knew that they bought an actual 747 and crashed it(after selling the engines). Why is the marketing material becomes essential to enhance my experience in the movie?
Why did they crash the plane in the first place?
To gain the trust of an estranged wife who mistakenly sold a forged art to his husband. (I still do not understand or too bored to understand what the hell is going on with the god damn painting?) After the protagonist knows about Sator, the movie spends 30 god damn minutes to spell the word ‘Do you like opera?’ to catch the villain’s attention after establishing a connection with the tall woman by doing visually spectacular things.
How about reaching his gates and tell the security guard, ‘I need to meet Sator. It is very important. Tell him Do you like opera? Tell the words in the exact order and tone as I said. Because that is the code word to catch his attention. He will ask me to come with him to a very risky flying catamaran sailing along with his wife-with-possible-murder-intent immediately when he hears those words. And… most importantly, ignore the tall woman!’
2. Cataraman Sailing
‘What do you know about opera?’. There is so much innocence in that dialog. Maybe it was his choice of simple words or his expression while delivering that line. I felt empathy for him. He was in such a hostile situation sitting in a 50 knots per hour boat in between a murderous wife and a person with no records to know what he is up to. I wanted to save him from dying.
Obviously, the innocent man gets his answer about something that happened in 2008. And almost gets killed by the tall lady. Too much risk for a simple answer.
3. The Heist
4. Sator comes in an inverted car to get what he wants.
The whole temporal pincer operation by (the otherwise innocent) Sator is amazing. But here Sator uses another unwritten rule in Hollywood which demands the audience to care for the character we know. In Dwayne Johnson’s San Andreas, when everyone is dying, a practical mind will prepare itself to lose anything. But the movie asks us to care for the characters as we were told their back story. Here at this point, what if we sacrifice the tall lady and save the earth instead?
5. The spectacular inverted car crash in the trailer.
So, the inverted car crash we all saw a thousand times was in fact the protagonist himself! What purpose did this visually spectacular inverted car crash bring to the movie? The inverted car served as the bounce pad for them to exchange the orange box in a highly unpractical fashion.
6. FREEPORT fight scene:
If I had heard this from a friend who had watched this movie, it would have easily been the coolest thing I had heard in months. A normal person and a reversed person fighting each other! The actors and the choreographer did pretty convincing jobs on their part. On looking at the reversed clips we can’t tell who in which clip did the inverted part.
But my complaint is that by denying CGI he denied the audience the pleasure of watching some of the coolest scenes that they never witnessed. I also believe we are so pretty used to know when the person is acting in reverse versus watching the actual reversed video. Combining real-time footage and the reversed footage in a masterful way would have brought one of the iconic fight scenes in the history of cinema than this floor-swimming, whats-going-on, oh-he-is-emptying-the-magazine scene.
7. Two people in pretty locations walking and talking.
I’ve no complaints about the number of exposition scenes. But if you watch those scenes closely, the dialogs were edited pretty tight to each other. (as we have wasted almost half of the movie caring about the art, 747, and the flying catamaran)
For instance, here are some fragments of the scene between the protagonist and Priya walking in a pretty place.
‘… By destroying us, they are destroying themselves!’
‘The grandfather paradox!’
‘…hiding the algorithm in the best place she can think of’
‘The past! Here! Now!’
‘…The best hiding place possible.’
‘Nuclear containment facilities!’
‘…Because he was at the right place at the right time.’
‘Collapse of the soviet union!’
Writing an exposition without the other person talking can be very challenging. But these scenes sound like listening to two telemarketers pretend to be talking to each other selling something to us.
8. The Final War
This contains some of the visually spectacular and relevant-to-plot scenes at the same time! The temporal pincer ten-> <-ten and all those stuff were interesting to watch following the final reveal by Niel that he knew the protagonist for so long but it is just a beginning for the protagonist. I’m still wrapping my head around this idea. Spectacular concept of a relationship that I have never heard before (or understood to this point).
- Pretentious dialogs: Even though I liked many dialogs like ‘I presume you mean Sir Micheal Crosby’s Lunch.’ — ‘Presume away’. Some like ‘You can’t jibe a boat like that!’ sound very pretentious to me personally. Actors also seem to be forced to rush their deliveries with the editor having a knife at his throat to cut any gaps inbetween lines.
- CGI can be your friend: It is more majestic to watch the 747 crash on to the sets by watching it live standing in the sets in person. If I’m a guy into those sorts I would not want to do CGI anymore. But it is to be noted that it is not very helpful for the audience.
- Is it a necessary (or remotely interesting) sub-plot? No matter how long we were asked to watch Kat and her suffering from domestic violence, It feels nothing in front of a greater ‘World war III level’ threat we were promised. It gets confusing not necessarily because of some advanced physics, but due to the irrelevant choices the characters continuously make to achieve irrelevant stuff.
How about saving time and the spectacular visuals for the necessary things next time?