Tenet (Christopher Nolan, 2020) wr. Christopher Nolan; John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki

This is rubbish, wasteful rubbish.
Nolan should have followed the motto of the East Fremantle Primary School: Go Forward. One of the fundamental things about narrative is that it goes forward (tho there can be moments of looking backward).* At one point in the film, for the longest time, there are two narratives running alternately, one going forward, the other backward—and I mean the film is running backward. A chess grandmaster, or someone of that ilk, might be able to grok this on a first viewing, but I cannot imagine it making sense to me on my seventh — and there ain't gonna be no second!

Philip Kemp: Nolan has mentioned on occasion that he’d rather like to direct a Bond movie, and for much of its 2½-hour running time Tenet comes across as an 007 romp that’s been force-fed a course in temporal relativity and advanced nuclear physics. Sight&Sound.

Ben Flanagan: ... the film distills existential and contemporary anxieties into its bloated and riotous spy-movie package. Here, time moves forward and backward simultaneously and the characters wear gas masks, wanting for a return to normality as nefarious forces seek to accelerate the destruction of the planet through the use of a bomb sent back in time. As Tenet is keen to remind us, it’s a palindrome in both content and structure. But in the context of our uncertain moment, it’s also scarcely what you’d call escapist entertainment. Slant Magazine.

* Time reversal. My claim above that narrative time always move forwards can easily be invalidated - but only in rare instances. One is Nolan's own Memento (2000), his second film, which starts with a scene being projected in reverse. Another is Irréversible (Gaspar Noë, 2002) but that is a sequence of (fourteen) scenes running in forward time simply presented in reverse order - or so I believe: I didn't get very far through watching the film.

In literature, there is Martin Amis's Time's Arrow, which I haven't read but is described at length in the inevitable Wikpedia article. It refers to a scene in the film Slaughterhouse-Five where a bombing sequence is shown in reverse.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 12 December, 2020 | Now: 22 February, 2021