The first batch of reviews for Christopher Nolan's Tenet hit last week after the movie screened in the UK, and while the vast majority of them were positive, there were significant caveats to the general consensus. Now, the film has screened in the U.S. and so we've now seen the second batch of reviews. For the most part, they're falling in line with the first set. Most people think thew movie is impressive if somewhat dense. Although, there are those that think the film fails to deliver on its time-bending premise.
Of course, there is also another set of outliers among critics. There are a small number who think that Tenet is literally everything it could possibly be. A Tour-de-Force for Christopher Nolan, perhaps the best work of the accomplished director's career. CinemaBlend's own Sean O'Connell is one of those, who has given Tenet a perfect five-star review, saying...
A hold-on-by-your-fingernails thrill ride with subtle touches of wit, romance, suspense, tragedy, determination and cinema-driven awe woven throughout it.
One of the most interesting trends that came out of the first batch of reviews was the discussion of Tenet's time-bending mechanics. Most critics were open about the fact that the movie might require multiple views to truly get your head around how it's all supposed to work, and Sean also is forced to admit that he didn't quite get it all in one sitting, but he does say it all makes enough sense in one viewing that nobody should feel lost, and it never makes the viewer feel like there's something they don't understand.
Sean isn't the only one who thought Tenet was essentially perfect. ComicBook.com also gives the film a perfect review score, saying that even with the movie's occasional exposition dumps and complex details, in the end, it all pays off in a big way.
While exposition can get heavy and sometimes hard to follow, the payoff of these story threads and the film's mythology as a whole, along with payoff from earlier moments that left viewers with big questions, fulfill those answers by tremendously satisfying design.
However, while most critics agree that Tenet has some really impressive visuals, looks amazing on a big screen, and is as mind-bending as anything Christopher Nolan has ever done, there are those who don't think that's quite enough. While The Playlist ultimately gives Tenet a passing grade, it feels the film is lacking when it comes to developing the characters that we're all supposed to care about...
But throughout all this, the nagging question of what is at stake will not die down. For us to care about the conflict at its heart, and to be invested in its resolution, shouldn’t we give a damn about someone, at least one person, onscreen? How can you create suspense in a world where nobody has a personality?
However, there are other reviews like the Chicago Tribune, which ultimately think that the movie's flash and wow factor isn't enough to compensate for what's not there...,
There are some beautiful backward sights to behold: exploded buildings magically reassembling, or bullets zwooping back, in reverse motion, into the weapons from whence they came. But the movie has a way of tripping over itself, whichever direction it’s going...
Overall, most critics at least appreciate Tenet, and some unapologetically love it. Maybe it was just being able to go to a movie theater again. Those that have the ability can start to see Tenet in theaters beginning September 3.