Tenet

Critics Consensus

A visually dazzling puzzle for film lovers to unlock, Tenet serves up all the cerebral spectacle audiences expect from a Christopher Nolan production.

71%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 279

76%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 5,749

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Movie Info

A secret agent embarks on a dangerous, time-bending mission to prevent the start of World War III.

Cast & Crew

Clémence Poésy
Barbara
Thomas Hayslip
Executive Producer
Hoyte Van Hoytema
Cinematographer
Jennifer Lame
Film Editor
Ludwig Göransson
Original Music
Nathan Crowley
Production Design
Toby Britton
Art Director
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News & Interviews for Tenet

Critic Reviews for Tenet

All Critics (279) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (198) | Rotten (81)

  • The auteur doesn't show much growth in his most recent self-indulgent work.

    September 18, 2020 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • What strikes you is how determinedly bare of feeling it seems, even when emotional opportunities present themselves.

    September 4, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Telling a story backward sounds bizarre - it is bizarre - but it works. The backward stuff in "Tenet" sounds bizarre - worse than bizarre, goofy - and for a while it works. But once it doesn't, it really doesn't.

    September 4, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a shiny clockwork contraption with a hollow center: a convoluted Rubik's Cube blockbuster that, once solved, reveals little more than the complexity of its own design.

    September 3, 2020 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

    A.A. Dowd

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Both utterly dazzling and increasingly bewildering.

    September 3, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Brian Truitt

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • Maybe you could follow what is happening if you wrote it all down on a flow chart with circles and arrows and multiple colored inks, but it wouldn't be worth the effort - and that's hard to do in a dark movie theater.

    September 3, 2020 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tenet

  • Oct 09, 2020
    Hoo boy. Not sure how to review the latest Nolan brain-twister. Maybe in reverse? The opening was thrilling - major vibes from the opening scene of "The Dark Knight." But it went sideways (or multiple-ways) from there. I went in knowing this was mind-bending. That it would take multiple viewings to make sense of it. But it was beyond confusing. It was unintelligible. At some point, I was so confused (watching things/people go backward through time while things/people go forward in time will do that to you), I pulled up a scene-by-scene recap on my phone. And even that didn't help. Great acting: Check. Awesome cinematography: Check. Pounding soundtrack: Check. Do you ever watch a 2.5 hour James Bond movie and wonder "Where in the world are they now? Which massive death-defying air/sea/land chase are we watching now?" That's essentially what this is ... A confusing epic Bond movie with a "reverse-time" brain teaser thrown in. Expect to read/watch a recap (or two) afterwards to try and make sense of it (trust me - it doesn't help).
    Mark B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2020
    Tenet is the most ambitious Christopher Nolan film. This is easily one of the best action films I have seen and it will also leave you with one hell of a headache attempting to understand the story-line. My only real complaint was the sound over the top of dialogue. It's a hard film to grab and then you have to struggle for the dialogue, something that won't be an issue at home with subtitles, but come on. Nolan is clearly at the height of his film-making and a film like Tenet really showcases something special that many studios lack these days. It's a shame Covid19 with hurt the box office of this film as it's an original film that showcases fresh idea's. Tenet is a cerebral experience and I left knowing I loved it but didn't totally understand everything. I can't recall watching a film like this and throwing my hands up in the air. I caught this earlier in August as it was released in Australia early due to the current virus situation in the USA. I went into this completely cold of film critics and user reviews and I feel this is the best way. The trailer gave nothing away and watching this without any ratings was refreshing to say the least. 22/08/2020
    Brendan O Super Reviewer
  • Sep 01, 2020
    In terms of fan favourites and just raw talent in general, director Christopher Nolan has been one of the best in Hollywood for many years. Every time he is working on a new project people immediately get excited. Being one of those people myself, I was eagerly awaiting his latest film, Tenet. Now playing in theatres in select areas of the world, Tenet is probably Nolan's most complex film to date. Normally, the complexities of his stories are what intrigues everyone and eventually have them loving it upon multiple viewings, but I believe he nearly went too far with this one. Tenet is a great example of top-notch filmmaking, but it's a lot to take in at times. Here are my overall thoughts.  To even attempt to describe this plot in detail will leave people scratching their heads, so I'll simply say that this film follows a globetrotting main character (who is nameless throughout the entire film) who works his way through plots of espionage, all while learning and adapting to the new ways this world works. Playing with the reverse of time in real-time, Tenet is a very heavy movie to take in. There are scenes of expository dialogue that had me incredibly invested and understanding everything Christopher Nolan was going for, but others where I had more questions than any of his films in the past. This was absolutely a detriment to my overall experience, especially upon first viewing, but it also makes up for that in many more ways than one. The sheer spectacle, cinematography, and in-camera effects are truly what makes this film soar to its highest heights. It really was a true marvel to see how certain action sequences were moving both forward and backward in time. I'm not even sure how they pulled off some of the scenes that they did. Although the complexities took me out of it a little, I was still blown away watching many of the scenes unfold. If only the movie as a whole was even slightly clearer, I might have said I loved it. That said, it's also the kind of movie that I can see myself loving in a year from now if many more viewings assist in my enjoyment.  It goes without saying that a Christopher Nolan film will make you think very hard about what you're watching and at least be enjoyable to a fault. For that reason, I wasn't surprised at all that I liked this film. I was more looking at everything else in the film. From the very good central performance by John David Washington to the always welcome screen-characters by Robert Pattinson, this cast is littered with talent in front of the camera. It was also nice to see Nolan switch up his composer from Hans Zimmer to the likes of Ludwig Göransson. I thought his work here was very inspired and became a character in its own right as the film progressed. In the end, Tenet is a visual masterpiece that did leave a bit to be desired by the time it reached its conclusion. I was both blown away and puzzled throughout the majority of it, which is why I find it very hard to recommend. It's a very, very well-made film that I absolutely think filmgoers should seek out whenever they can, but be prepared to watch it more than once as well. This is a movie that requires a lot of your time and a lot of your attention in order to win you over. I'm very pleased with the final result, but also scratching my head a day later after watching it. Tenet is a great film that I'm still trying to grasp.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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