By Bradley Lane
Many a think piece has been written about the efficacy of releasing films in theaters amid the coronavirus pandemic still affecting most of the country. Central to those conversations has been modern cinema’s favorite big budget auteur Christopher Nolan and his newest film, Tenet. If you have seen any of Nolan’s films before; movies like The Dark Knight, Inception or Interstellar, you can immediately understand why Nolan would be resistant to following suit with the rest of the film industry during the pandemic and giving Tenet a digital only release. Nolan utilizes massive soundscapes and larger-than-life spectacles to bring his ideas to life, and those ideas are made to be experienced on the big screen; whether it’s safe or not, Tenet is finally here.
All of Nolan’s movies have a unique focus on time as a subject, but Tenet takes that fixation to a whole other level. The plot has been kept tightly under wraps, so I won’t spoil all the fun here, but the film is more about time than any individual character in the film. It follows a Mission Impossible-esque scenario that sees our protagonist and his small team attempting to save the world from an existential and immediate threat.
Without a doubt the biggest, most applicable compliment I can give Tenet is that it is very fun. It is a huge story with lots of complexities you may or may not understand as you are watching, but the entire time, I promise, is just so enjoyable to watch. From planes crashing into buildings to incredibly intricate car chases, there is hardly a moment in Tenet that isn’t just pure popcorn chomping fodder.
However, this is not to say Tenet is perfect. Most notably, I find it hard to fathom audiences will be able to fully understand the mechanics of the world during, or even after their first viewing. This wouldn’t be a huge issue had the film not devoted so much screen time to delivering so much exposition. The film has a dense plot that mostly makes sense but dedicates so much runtime to people just walking around explaining things that it starts to feel like wasted space.
Despite pacing issues and a level of distance to the characters Tenet is absolutely a good time. Is it good enough to brave a movie theater while in the last 10 days Indiana has reported 721 new cases of COVID-19? Only you can answer that question, but for a more socially distanced, safer moviegoing alternative to a theater, Tibbs Drive-In is showing Tenet starting tonight, Thursday, Sept. 3 and playing throughout the weekend. – 3.5/5 stars