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Tenet

Time Runs Out 

Year: 2020 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 (70mm) 
Certificate: BBFC 12 Cert – Not suitable for under 12s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Christopher Nolan 
Starring: John David Washinton, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki  
Review:

The saviour of cinema or not, Christopher Nolan has donned his cape and swooped into cinemas with his latest offering, a totally ridiculous but totally wonderful new picture, Tenet. In it, Nolan takes the two engines that powered his 2010 film Inception, an elegant science-fiction concept and Bond-influenced spectacle, and revs them into the highest gear, with a final act that excels with a previously unmatched level of action and catharsis. John David Washington is The Protagonist, a special operative who is recruited by a shadowy organisation to protect the world from a fate that is sending its threatening signals from that most inconvenient place - the future. It has been discovered that there is a process called 'time inversion' which, when performed on objects or even humans, reverses the direction in which they flow through time. Washington's character elicits the help of weary Neil (Robert Pattinson) to join him on a time-hopping heist to try and stop annihilation before the world realises it has been saved, and his journey leads him to Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), a sinister, vodka-swilling arms dealer - from Russia with hate.

The performances are across-the-board great; particularly enjoyable is Branagh - whose outbursts are by turns campy and scary - and Elizabeth Debicki is brilliantly cast as Sator's oppressed yet icily elegant wife Kat. But the star here is Christopher Nolan himself; his dedication to large-format film and in-camera special effects are pushed to the limit here. It is also one of his most sophisticated films, as the often baffling narrative is expressed through visual storytelling, where action can stand in for dialogue. The fundamentally silly concept is stretched to its logical conclusion: not only does it allow for action scenes to play out in two timelines simultaneously but it transforms into a surprisingly, ethereally emotional coda which further tangles the web of plot that has just been laid out. You might not keep up, you may well be utterly bamboozled, but hang on for the ride and you will find ideas here unlike any other blockbuster in years.

Max King

Don’t try to understand it - feel it. Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception) outdoes himself yet again, with his most ambitious, complex, and mind-bending (mind-inverting?) original film to date. Packed with thrills and chills and bursting with eye-popping practical effects from the very first second, TENET gives us everything we’ve come to expect from Nolan and more. This time we follow The Protagonist - the ice cool John David Washington (BlackKklansman), as he submerges into the twilight waters of international espionage to thwart a threat worse than nuclear Armageddon... Inversion. It's up to this ex-CIA agent and his flamboyant accomplice Neil (Robert Pattinson – Twilight), to prevent a delusional would-be terrorist from literally undoing reality with weapons supplied from the future. It’s fun and intriguing to see Nolan go the full nine yards with the spy tropes; exotic locations, a buddy-cop dynamic, a billionaire baddie and even a heist scene! Think James Bond with a Nolan time twist, or maybe Inception meets Primer (2004). The film is notable too for its strong female roles, particularly the estranged Kat (razor sharp Elizabeth Debicki) and the overall ingenuity of its sound design, set pieces and even its use of custom-built IMAX cameras, engineered to shoot in reverse.

It is clear from the outset that the director has poured his soul into what feels like a very personal project, and what results is an astonishingly unique and original cinematic experience. The plot is unflinching as it establishes the rules of this universe, even dipping into the physics theories of Temporal Symmetry and Feynman antimatter to ground its novel take on time travel. But even as the story seamlessly interweaves with itself and we get into the nitty-gritty of the complications from Inversion - including an unforgettable fight sequence - you’ll scarcely believe what you’re seeing even as the dense fabric unfolds before your eyes. For spy fans it's a treat, for Sci-fi fans it's a dream come true, and for everyone in-between it's a must-see game changer, propped up by stellar acting and unparalleled technical spectacle. You’ve never seen anything like it. Once you have, you will have to start looking at the world in a new way.

Fun Facts:

Composer Ludwig Goransson not only finished the score during lock-down by stitching together individual recordings of musicians in their homes, but also found a way to incorporate Christopher Nolan’s own breathing in Sator’s theme and the finale.

The opera house in the opening scene, Linnahall in Estonia dates to when the state was part of the Soviet Union. The building was completely derelict so the entire stage, exterior walls and even seats and carpeting were rebuilt to complete the set.

About 1.6 million feet of IMAX footage was shot for the film, a potential world record. IMAX cameras were also modified for bespoke use in the film, for example to better operate in low light and to rotate 360 degrees in the car chase scene.

Todd Godderidge

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Screenings of this film:

2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)
2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)