Blockbuster ‘Tenet’ struggles with consistency

Neil (Robert Pattinson) and The Protagonist (John David Washington) discuss plans to stop a mysterious future weapon from destroying the past. (Fair use from IndieWire)

The new Chrisopher Nolan movie “Tenet” has trouble occasionally with its pace and clearness, leaving you very confused if you don’t pay close attention to every detail. While it has an intriguing plot with quick and exciting action scenes, it does not live up to the high expectations surrounding it.

The story follows a man referred to as The Protagonist who is assigned a mission: stop World War III from starting. He is a former soldier who has been kidnapped, tortured and then finally rescued by the United States and given his mission. With big name actors such as John David Washington playing The Protagonist and Robert Pattison and Elizabeth Debicki playing Neil and Kat, his companions, the movie should be a major success. But with an inconsistent storyline, it fails to meet the standard. The writers made the plot too complex, so there are times when viewers don’t know why the actors are performing a scene a certain way or how it relates to the rest of the movie.

While The Protagonist, along with accomplices, Neil and Kat, are in most important scenes, most of the secondary characters struggled to find an appropriate role. Half of the time they were on screen, I found that they were unnecessary because they didn’t provide anything new or interesting to the scenes.

With Pattison likely being the most prolific actor in the film, his character, Neil, should have had a better role. Unfortunately, he comes across as a very static character and doesn’t generate much intrigue. The Protagonist lacks humor and energy and doesn’t show much growth, so it becomes hard to relate to him. In blockbuster action films, I think it is important that the viewers become somewhat attached to the main character, and because of that lack of growth, a connection is never established.

The villain, Andrei Sator, who is played by Kenneth Branagh, is the typical action movie villain. While he is portrayed well on screen, his character is generic, predictable and flat, as he is nothing more than a corrupt Russian businessman. The overly-complicated plot takes away part of Branagh’s character and makes it hard to understand what his plans are or what his motive is. His mission as the villain becomes twisted and confusing as the plot becomes more complex.

However, the movie does have some positive qualities, such as its visuals. The film features beautiful, bright shots of India and the Mediterranean Sea, which suck the viewer into the elegance of the landscape. Along with the setting, the action scenes where The Protagonist and others fight villains are very well executed and will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. If one strips away all of the unnecessary additions to the plot, the mission of The Protagonist is interesting enough to make anyone want to know what happens. However, part of that interest in the mission is lost in the pointless additions to parts of the plot.

“Tenet” is a fast-paced and complex movie that will leave viewers confused if they stop paying attention even for a minute. Some fans may enjoy the quick and complicated pace of the film, but many others may find its quick pace unenjoyable, as they may struggle to digest what is occurring on screen and notice the flaws in its execution.