33+ Tenet Reviews – a movie created that must be rewatched for clarity?

Tenet ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Here we are, four weeks since Tenet was released in the United States. Box office sales are waning, but it still holds the #1 spot and has amassed $42 million domestically and almost $300 million worldwide, mostly due to a lack of any serious competition. I mean, The New Mutants was #2 for sales. That says it all.

One of the things most enjoyable after watching a movie, is seeing what others thought about it, reading reviews, soaking in those myriad of tidbits in a movie like this one, which seems engineered specifically toward repeat watching.

If you’re in the camp who thinks it’s unsafe in your area going to theaters at the present time, then a movie which by design encourages repeat viewing is going to be less desirable to see in theaters. I have to wonder if this is playing a part to some moviegoer’s hesitation?

Tenet runs dangerously close to being too clever for itself. Maybe even crosses the line here and there.

We’re probably not going to rewatch it in the theaters, instead waiting for streaming. Well, at least Kara won’t watch it at all again, I’m guessing. Me, on the other hand, I see the need to take another shot at solving the Rubik’s Cube that is Christopher Nolan’s newest enigmatic film.

Also, I missed just how tall Elizabeth Debicki is in the movie. She’s 6’3″ in real life and movies can play with depth, but there is one scene mentioned in a Vulture article that drills home her tallness. In fact, the whole article made me chuckle at how hyper-focused it is on her Amazonian height.

This is when Debicki, seated in the back seat of the car, like, behind the passenger seat, raises her leg above the arm rest, reaches across the front seat, and clicks the door unlocked, so she can open the rear passenger door. I’m being deadass: Elizabeth Debicki is tall enough to unlock a car’s backdoor by dismantling the driver-side child look control from the backseat. With her feet. This isn’t The Prestige, there is no magic trick. She is just that tall.

Just How Tall Is Elizabeth Debicki in Tenet?

lol, we get it, Debicki is tall. Not freakish tall, really, but the average height of a woman is 5′ 4″ according to Google highlighted search results (the go-to for answers, of course) and she’s almost a foot taller.

… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …

Should moviegoers have to watch a movie more than once to enjoy it?

Nolan asks a question I can’t remember ever asking myself before: what if a film is created to intentionally require people to rewatch it to fully comprehend all aspects of the story? I’m not sure if that was Nolan’s plan here, but I’ve read multiple say this in reviews; that watching Tenet once isn’t enough.

I’m going against that theory. A film isn’t some very abstract piece of art. It isn’t a sculpture or a bunch of trash assembled in a curious faction. I’ve seen art pieces that, literally, are made out of trash and thought: huh?

I would like to see Tenet again, but as said in our video review and at above, this will probably not happen in the theater. Not sure how or if this will improve or decrease my overall feelings toward the movie.

Regardless your feelings on the complexities of the story, there enough people out there complaining that the plot is anywhere from “convoluted” to “confusing” to “unclear” and many more. A lot of people didn’t get the inverse time travel stuff.

Time travel movies can be difficult to follow and almost always contain some sort of paradox that questions the overall story logic.

After only one viewing I honestly can’t go deep enough into the story to say whether or not the story makes complete sense. Should I have to? That’s a valid complaint.

I’m not used to rewatching movies for enhanced clarity and to learn more details. I did enjoy the technology component and am a fan of time travel stories, so, again (yeah, said it like three times) will probably return and will be curious to see what my feelings are on a second watch. Most likely that will happen on streaming.

But I’m not in any hurry to do so — which says something.

The Tenet palindrome and 10 x 10

The Tenet title backwards is ten spelled both ways, which is the amount of time of the final action scene (not in real time, but in a countdown timer). It would have been truly epic if the movie run time was exactly 10 x 10 = 100 minutes. Further constraining Nolan to get to the point a little more quickly than the 2 1/2 hours used.

Maybe in his next movie, he’ll challenge himself to use less than two hours to get the story told. Somebody needs to tell these established filmmakers that less is more.

The middle section of this movie felt like it could have been tightened more. I liked the ending and the beginning.

The movie is LOUD, like so loud Huey Lewis would complain “loud”

Remember that opening scene of Back To The Future where Huey Lewis plays a teacher reviewing talent and says of Marty McFly’s band, The Pinheads, “You’re just too loud.”

Marty McFly channels his inner Jimi Hendrix in Back To The Future … much to Huey Lewis’s dismay

That is how most of the IMAX movie experience is for Tenet. Like the volume is turned to 11, so much that at times I heard speaker buzzing. That’s too loud when you’re overdriving the speakers and you’re not at a Metallica concert. Not sure why Nolan wanted to overclock the sound volume, but think this contributed to complaints that some dialogue was difficult to hear.

We didn’t struggle to hear the dialogue, but both felt the volume was unnecessarily loud at times. We’re in a captive theater, we don’t need to have our ears hurt. You can wow us without discomfort, Mr. Nolan.

Reviews by Others

What do others think of Tenet?


  1. tensecondsfromnow / film-authority.com: “…the big finale pulls things together with elan, and makes Tenet a satisfying film, even if it doesn’t provide quite the shock to the system that Inception did. If you only plan on leaving your current place of shelter to see one film in 2020, Tenet’s mix of bombast and sophistication sets an imperious, irresistable tone.”
  2. Annlyel Online (90/100): “For spectacle, it’s perfection. For storytelling, this is probably the most confusing movie I have ever seen.”
  3. Bookidote / Trang: “…a strong idea that works if you don’t think too hard about it, yet needs you to think hard about it to understand it. Spectacle and soundscape are both grandiose, as Nolan is known to do.”
  4. Caution Spoilers: “Ignore my 11 year old’s questionable statement that “the music in this is questionable,” as the score is top-notch even when it’s as head-hurting as the ideas. We were united in our four star ratings though, and our regular bafflement. A rewatch would risk becoming a “fill in the blanks” exercise, even though that’s probably an impossible task.”
  5. Cindy Bruchman (7/10): (letter directed to Mr. Nolan) “In Tenet, the chase scenes involving the time sequences were thrilling and complicated and gorgeous to watch. You are unique and clever. I don’t see how anyone would object to your thrilling scenes. I won’t.”
  6. Cinematic Doctrine: “Nolan’s latest film is one of those rare films that grow in estimation. I would rather have a bad experience during my first watch and a good experience every rewatch than the reverse. Tenet is that kind of wholly original experience needed to bring people back into a dark room with a big screen and a bunch of strangers, after six months of not doing so, not just once, but multiple times.”
  7. Drew’s Movie Blog: “I thought Tenet was GOOD. In classic Christopher Nolan fashion, this film has an ambitious concept with a very intricate plot that will certainly require multiple viewings to fully catch all of the details. As a fan of great action sequences, this film is chock full of amazing set pieces all done using practical effects for an absolutely stunning experience.”
  8. fivethreeninety: “…it’s a fantastic, cinematic experience, that should be seen by everyone. I know that despite the faults I see in it, I’d be up for watching it a couple more times.”
  9. Flicks & Pieces / Luke Kent (3.5/5): “A film which will benefit from repeat viewings, that will spark conversation, and that undoubtedly was put together with the shared cinema-going experience firmly in mind.”
  10. Funk’s House of Geekery (9/10): “This is another home run for Nolan, a perfect blend of action and science fiction. The only thing holding it back is the characters lacking a relatable motivation, and some of their decisions at key moments feel out of character. Make sure you see it twice, though, as it is beautifully disorientating.”
  11. Giadreams / The Movie My Life: “Overall, there’s certainly more to love about Tenet than not. As such, watch it because there is only one Christopher Nolan, and we must enjoy his creative gifts while we can!”
  12. hallymustang: “On future rewatches understanding it more might make it more enjoyable but the characters are underdone and beyond “The Protagonist” trying to save the world you don’t feel that invested in him. As a visual experience ‘Tenet’ is epic, as an entertaining movie it’s average.”
  13. Irfan Nordin / Irfan Film Reviews (8.5/10): “A visually dazzling puzzle for film lovers to unlock, Tenet serves up all the cerebral spectacle audiences expect from a Christopher Nolan production.”
  14. Jade / The U Reviews: “…boldly manipulates time to baffling and fascinating effect, stirring giddy excitement in sci-fi fans who yearn for a shiny new concept to unravel.”
  15. Jason’s Movie Blog (4.4/5): “Personally, I really liked this movie. Sure, the complexity of the narrative was a bit haphazard and could’ve streamlined a little more as well as some of the character developments for most of the feature’s players, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film and was completely engrossed from start to finish.”
  16. JustJen / Sometimes Objective Reviews: “Personally, I like a movie that keeps you thinking long after the credits. It’s only been a day but I have been hit with a few waves of crashing realisations over certain actions that took place in the movie. I might not have understood it when I was watching it, but it clicked later on.”
  17. Keith & The Movies (5/5): ” Christopher Nolan has once again done what he does best – create an exhilarating cinematic experience aimed at wowing you visually and challenging you intellectually. It’s story is sure to be too dense for some, especially those wanting more easy-going blockbuster fare. But for everyone else buckle up, put your thinking cap on, and enjoy the ride. We don’t get movies like this very often”
  18. Luke Atkins (8.5/10): ” I’d give it a 10/10 based on my love for theoretical physics—thus many of the film’s ideas, which materialize in breathtaking, novel ways. However, I bet that many viewers will give it around a 6 or 7, which is valid. I also don’t think that most critics will understand it, which will hurt the work’s reception. It is contrived and disorienting and ludicrous for a reason. But it’s still a superb, entertaining, genre-bending trip.”
  19. Phil The Bear’s Film Reviews: “Will your head hurt thinking about it afterwards? Probably. But that just means you get to enjoy it again as you start to piece together the intricate puzzle that Nolan has laid out for us.”
  20. Screenhub Entertainment: “I recommend that you be fully awake and pay attention to all the little details during your experience. You will be confused after a first viewing, which is normal. Give yourself the chance to see it a second time and search the internet to fully have the finale explained to you.”
  21. WCRobinson (8.5/10): “…is a rough diamond; the central conceit is basis for spectacular flashpoints, yet by over-explaining itself the film loses opportunity to inform character development. The innovative filmmaking is an impressive showcase for how to surprise within a medium and genre.”
  22. We Minored In Film / Julianne Ramsey: “…is well worth your time. It reminds you of the thrills and excitement missing since theaters closed, and reminds you that it’s an experience that really only a film on the big screen can provide.”
  23. Wonders In The Dark: “…is a strong, bold effort that invites repeated viewings, not to get past its aggressive sound mix, but to unravel the timelines of the three main characters who are complicated through the plot machinations of the movie.”

Not Recommended

  1. 9takes (5.5/10): “The movie is an elaborate effort that could reward its audience after several viewings and some YouTube trips, but for its presentation card (the crucial first time), it depends excessively on sensory overload to trap the viewer in its narrative maze. And while trapped, you’ll likely experience some form of discomfort. Inception (2010), which I consider to be its sort-of twin sibling, is a better movie. I’ll stick to that one.”
  2. Martin Raybould: “I soon ceased caring how inversions differed from straightforward time travel and by the end was prepared to root for Andrei in his quest to destroy humanity as we know it. At least if he succeeded it would put paid to any threat of a Tenet 2.”
  3. Rachel’s Reviews (4/10): “I appreciate that Nolan is pushing mainstream audiences and is not satisfied with the ordinary movie-going experience. Unfortunately sometimes he forgets that the basics of good cinema are important too- characters, story, intelligible dialogue, emotion etc. We need it all for the pretty images to mean something and make an impact. Sorry Nolan! Try again!”
  4. Reely Bernie (2.5/5): “I would say Tenet lines up with the Inception problem: It’s cold, overindulged in its own exposition, and goes on forever. And, like the Dunkirk problem, Nolan moves his characters around like pawns on his celluloid chessboard and positions any fleshed-out humanity into checkmate.”
  5. Robb Shepherd / 21 Word Review: “For a high-concept thriller, Tenet seems under-baked and best served with your brain switched off. Time for Nolan to rewind.”
  6. Ruth / Flixchatter Blog (2.75/5): “Lastly, while I still think Nolan is a visionary filmmaker, I’d love to see him tackle a smaller film (maybe under $50mil) and come up with something stronger narratively instead of just a big puzzle piece. That said, I’m glad I saw it on the big screen, and considering how confusing the movie is, the 150-minute running time actually doesn’t feel tedious or overlong.”
  7. Salt Lake Film Review / Matt Bullions: “…is a simple idea in theory, it’s basically Nolan’s Bond movie. However, it’s over-complicated just for the hell of it and it increasingly feels like Nolan is just making movies for himself. Tenet is not a movie to be enjoyed by the masses and I feel like even the most ardent Nolan apologists will find themselves scratching their heads.”
  8. Screen Zealots (2/5): “I hate that “Tenet” falls apart so spectacularly, because I think this could’ve been a terrific film with a whole lot more to say about the world we live in. Just because it is a “wtf did I just watch?” movie doesn’t mean it’s the profound work of a cinematic auteur.”
  9. Society Reviews: “This inversion plays with elements of time travel and parallel universes but doesn’t clarify the rules of it’s universe enough to make sense. The main character is a person the film purposely doesn’t name for the sake of the plot, but this creates a story that is devoid of emotion.  Washington is too mysterious for his own good and the only true interaction he has with the world is an odd pseudo-relationship with Elizabeth Debicki that never crosses the threshold of believablity.”
  10. Starloggers: “Tenet only calls for it just to watch the well-crafted visuals of inverted fights and car chases. But doing that will be easier and more rewarding when watching it at home instead of theaters. At least from your device or TV you can skip over the plodding and convoluted first half of the film and get right into the off-kilter action scenes.”
  11. Tom E / Plain Simple Tom Reviews: “As visually impressive as any other Nolan film, with good music, a willing cast, and clearly a lot of hard work having been put into it, but it buckles under the weight of its immense ambition and the ridiculously unfathomable plot, uneven sound design, and cold nature prove to be an unfortunate hindrance.”
  12. What Went Wrong or Right With? (5/10): “If you take away the tinkering with time, what you’re left with is an immaculate set and wardrobe but little in the way of substance. There’s only so many times you can watch a rich, upper-class man (or someone dressed as one) save the day without getting bored or gipping on your popcorn. The fact that this hero is black makes no real difference. This is just another Inception with elements of Batman Begins to please the spelunking, BASE–jumping crowd”
  13. When The Credits Roll: “I feel like I’m very ambivalent on the film, perhaps leaning towards liking it. I tend to prioritise character and theme work over large-scale cinematic flair and great technicals, so I’m probably not Tenet‘s ideal audience. Though I do think Nolan needs to sort out his problems with these things, lest his entire catalogue be tainted with machinated plot points and lifeless characters who are plot devices rather than fleshed out people.”

Linked above and wondering what would be cool to do next? Commenting once in awhile is always good (I like reader and other blogger interaction). If you have the trackback/pingback come to your site then just approve it because after people read your review then they can come here and follow links and read someone else’s review. What comes around goes around and sharing is the ultimate “thank you!” on the internet.

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

Happy movie watching!

11 thoughts on “33+ Tenet Reviews – a movie created that must be rewatched for clarity?

  1. Hey! Thanks for the share! Also, great write-up. Always fun to see what others think of movies. I’m sure Carter will be so happy to know you snagged his review and shared it here!

    We’ve got an upcoming podcast episode on Tenet releasing on the 30th, as well. Some really great thoughts shared as we dug deeper into the film. Definitely grew on me not only as I let the movie sit, but as we talked for about an hour and a half on the film.

    Amazing, though. Even as the movie got better in my head, I still don’t want to rewatch it purely because the audio was so blisteringly loud. No movie is worth that headache!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched Inception for the third time a few days after seeing Tenet and I loved it even more. I don’t know if I’ll feel the same after my second viewing of Tenet, but I know that the epic nature of it all, plus Nolan’s know-how when it comes to delighting massive movie fans like myself will have me smiling from ear to ear.


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