Review: Tenet is not a 10/10

Tenet was hard to follow and overstimulating.


Photo Ethan Adair, Netflix

Collection of stills from Tenet.

Ella Wertz, News and Features Editor

There hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of movies coming out due to the pandemic, so I was super excited when Tenet made its debut in the theaters.

Tenet follows the storyline of an American spy attempting to avoid the start of World War III based on climate change. The film utilizes time travel and many other sci-fi twists to make the plot way more confusing. Tenet was a good attempt at a futuristic, time-bending movie, but I would say it just missed the mark.

Coming into the movie, I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited for another action-thriller movie, but my excitement was short lived.  I was pretty confused the first few minutes into the movie.

The characters were all introduced at the same time and I struggled to even catch their names, much less their roles. When I did get to know the characters, I didn’t really like or connect to any of them. I didn’t sympathize for any of the characters and saw none of them as genuine good guys which made it hard to stay involved because I didn’t really care what happened to them. For example, the main female character gets injured badly and almost dies and I felt nothing – no remorse or happiness, just indifference.

Besides the character dilemma, the story jumped between different plot lines without much warning and was super difficult to follow. I still am not really sure what the point of half of the movie was. Before going into the movie, I read that it was about stopping a world war that was threatening to break out because of climate change. But the movie seemed to have nothing to do with climate change.

What I could grasp of the plot revolved around a conflict between a married couple with a couple scenes dedicated to a random female arms dealer. I didn’t see how any of this was relevant to or about climate change.

As the movie continued, the plot became harder and harder to grasp. Towards the end, a war broke out between American agents and another party. The other party fighting was never mentioned and never even shown in the movie. This small war seemed to be a time filler that was really purposeless, like most of the movie.

Not only were the characters and plot lacking, but on top of that there was a very complicated “time-bending” concept, which was labeled “inverted.” It distracted from the plot, making it harder to discern the basics of the movie. The inversion added so much confusion to the movie. Inversion wasn’t just time travel, but I don’t really think I understood it well enough to explain it. Some of the characters were inverted and seemed to be traveling backwards in time with their whole world seeming to be in retrograde. The whole inversion aspect didn’t really add up.

The fighting scenes were very disappointing as well. It was one of those movies where the “good guys” don’t get hurt and seem to always miss the punch, which is completely unrealistic and uninteresting to me. At two points of the movie, the characters were fighting an inverted version themselves, but didn’t seem to figure it out towards the end, which perplexed me. With the movie being an action-thriller, this was very disappointing.

One of the highlights of the movie was that it started and ended at the same part in the plot. Towards the beginning, a woman was shown jumping off a boat into the ocean and this scene, along with a couple others, were repeated as the movie was coming to an end. This was pretty interesting, but also gave the notion that the whole middle of the movie was pointless.

Overall, Tenet had a lot of potential. The idea of the movie was really interesting and the inversion design was promising. However, the execution was simply not there. I think Tenet will be an adequate stepping stone for more movies to explore this futuristic, time-bending idea.