5 Reasons Why Tenet Is Make Or Break For Me As A Christopher Nolan Fan


I love Christopher Nolan. Or at least, I loved Christopher Nolan. He directed some of my favorite movies of all time, such as The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and of course, Inception. But here’s the thing. I think I might be losing some of my interest in the famed director. And if his newest picture, Tenet, doesn’t absolutely blow me away, then I think I might stop being a Christopher Nolan fan altogether.

I know, I know, who cares, right? But it really does hurt me to say that. Because I used to be a mega fan! For example, if you had called Inception pretentious, or Insomnia boring back in the day, I would have jumped down your throat and screamed, “You’re pretentious! You’re boring.” But I’ve kind of soured on Nolan as of late, which is why Tenet is really make or break for me. But why have I soured so much on Nolan after being such a huge fan? Well…

Christian Bale

The Dark Knight Rises Disappointed Me, And So Did Nolan's Next Two Films

I recall the summer The Dark Knight Rises came out. It was the same summer that I got married. I remember saying to my friends, without thinking, that 2012 was going to be “the worst summer ever” since the Dark Knight trilogy was coming to an end, and my then-girlfriend said, “Worst summer ever, huh? Thanks a lot!” So, yes, I was a die-hard Nolan fan. But then, I saw The Dark Knight Rises, and, well… I hated it. Like, not even a little, but out and out despised that movie. I couldn’t stand Bane’s backstory (is he crying?), I couldn’t stand the “twist” with Talia al Ghul. And I loathed that cheap fake death ending. Plus, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robin? Give me a break.

But that was just one misfire, right? Surely Interstellar would be amazing. But nope. In fact I think I disliked Interstellar even more than The Dark Knight Rises. Okay, so two strikes. But Dunkirk has to be fantastic. I mean, look at that trailer! But nuh-uh. Definitely not fantastic. I mean, it was fine, but it certainly didn’t reach the impossibly high standards that I associated with Nolan films earlier in the past. So Tenet has really got to bring it for me. Because I can’t take another “it was fine” if I’m going to go back to being a die-hard fan.

Robert Pattinson on the left and John David Washington on the right

Christopher Nolan’s Realistic Approach Doesn’t Blow Me Away Like It Used To

I used to just love the general aesthetic of a Christopher Nolan film. It always had that realistic, business casual flare that set all of his films apart from other filmmakers. It’s what made his approach to Batman seem revolutionary at the time (especially after the ultra-colorful Batman and Robin). But I’m tiring of everybody wearing suits and shooting at each other. It’s kind of getting old for me.

And the thing is, he applies this realistic approach to pretty much all of his films. Honestly, I just wish he would try something outside of his comfort zone. Maybe something fantastical. Something where I would say, “This is a Christopher Nolan film?” I remember when I was sitting in the theater one time and I saw a trailer for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and then it said that it was directed by Zack Snyder, and I thought, really? This is from the same guy who directed 300? I already know that Tenet is not going to change up the Christopher Nolan style, but it better be a damn great movie then, that blows me away if he’s deciding to stick to his old tricks.

John David Washington in the foreground

Christopher Nolan Wants To Make It So We HAVE To Return To Theaters To See His Recent Film

In the past, this is where I would have bare-knuckle boxed you in an alley if you had even suggested that a new Christopher Nolan film should be experienced anywhere other than on the big screen. But Covid-19 has changed my perspective on a lot of things, with going to movie theaters being just one of them. And with movies like Mulan and Bill and Ted Face the Music going straight to VOD, I don’t see why Tenet has to be seen in theaters.

A lot of people are making it seem like Tenet can walk on water. They’re making it seem like it’s going to be the salvation of movie theaters and that it’s going to bring us all back into the cineplex in droves. But if that’s the case, and they’re sticking with that September 3rd release date, then Tenet very well better be so good that it heals the sick, too, since Covid-19 is still very real, and if I’m going to risk my health to see a movie, then it better be Inception good. Not Dunkirk good.

John David Washington looking to the side

This Is His Most Expensive Movie Ever, But Is It In Exchange For An Excellent Story?

Tenet is Christopher Nolan’s most expensive movie for an original idea to date. Coming in at (roughly) $225 million, Tenet has a bigger budget than The Dark Knight, and that movie had freaking Batman in it! So obviously, Christopher Nolan is of the "go big or go home" mindset with this movie, and that’s fine. If it’s really good.

But honestly, I miss the less-is-more approach to some of his older films. Movies like Following, Memento, and even The Prestige, relied more on storytelling than special effects. Inception was a great example of heady storytelling but with a big budget, so that’s a great example where Nolan swung for the fences and knocked it way out of the park and into the next town over. I just hope that Tenet can do the same. Because in a lot of ways, Tenet kind of even looks like Inception, which brings me to my final point.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt walking sideways

Tenet Kind Of Looks Like Inception, Which Is My Favorite Christopher Nolan Movie

What is Tenet even about? Is it about time travel? Time definitely has something to do with the story, but a lot of the plot is still cloaked in secrecy, which is fine. I like mystery. Inception is my favorite Christopher Nolan movie, and that film was just oozing with mystery before it came out. The plot seemed too original to be real—dream thieves who are planning to implant an idea rather than steal one? What? How? But Nolan pulled it off, and it’s still my favorite movie of his to date.

And Tenet has the potential to supplant that movie. If it’s as twisty and as cerebral as Inception then it would make this entire article moot. But if it isn’t, then he’s probably lost a former die-hard fan forever.

But what do you think? Does everything also hinge on Tenet for you as a Christopher Nolan fan, or did you really like Dunkirk and Interstellar, and think that Tenet will be yet another masterpiece in the director’s oeuvre? Sound off in the comments.

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Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.