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Christopher Nolan
John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki
Writing Credits:
Christopher Nolan

A Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

Box Office:
$205 million.
Opening Weekend
$20,200,000 on 2810 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/2.20:1 (Varying)
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Quebecois French Dolby 5.1
German DTS-HD MA 5.1
German Descriptive Audio
Italian Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby 5.1
Thai Dolby 5.1
Castillian Dolby 5.1
Hindi Dolby 5.1
Czech Dolby 5.1
Polish Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 150 min.
Price: $44.95
Release Date: 12/15/2020

• “Looking At the World In a New Way” Documentary
• Trailers
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Tenet [4K UHD] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 14, 2020)

By September 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused multiple potential blockbuster movies to change release dates. Eventually, Warner Bros. decided to make Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Tenet the canary in the coalmine.

The bird didn’t survive. Given the circumstances, the movie’s $57 million in the US didn’t turn into a complete catastrophe, but given that studios and exhibitors alike hoped Tenet would become the carrot to lure audiences back to multiplexes en masse, it failed to achieve it goals.

Perhaps those aforementioned studios and exhibitors expected too much from Tenet. A two-and-a-half hour thriller with a complex plot and little star power beyond its director’s reputation, it becomes uncertain that Tenet would’ve found a huge audience even without the shutdowns connected to the pandemic.

A CIA operative credited solely as “The Protagonist” (John David Washington) participates in a siege on a Ukrainian opera house. This pretends to revolve around the recovery of stolen plutonium, but instead, it acts solely to test the Protagonist and determine his strength and abilities.

When he passes this measure, the Protagonist finds himself recruited into a mysterious organization known only as “Tenet”. As part of this group, the Protagonist finds himself with the assignment to focus on billionaire Russian oligarch Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), a figure who appears determined to start World War III.

One major complication occurs due to Sator’s methods, as he possesses the ability to literally invert time in a number of ways. The Protagonist needs to access the same skills and stop Sator’s crusade, a mission he attempts partly through a personal connection with Sator’s estranged wife Katherine Barton (Elizabeth Debicki).

At the start of the review, I referred to Tenet as a film with a complex plot. If you look at that synopsis and think “hey dummy, what’s so complex about that?” then I wouldn’t blame you.

In truth, Tenet comes with a pretty simple narrative. At its core, it follows the James Bond mold: bad guy wants to create massive havoc and secret agent tries to stop him.

However, Nolan being Nolan, he can’t just tell a straight “A to B” version of the story. Instead, he muddies the waters with all sorts of complications that make this apparently straightforward tale decidedly difficult to follow.

Many viewers leave their first run-through of Tenet confused, and I count among that population. While I didn’t feel completely at sea during my initial screening, I know I wound up more confused than I’d expected.

Unsurprisingly, this changed during my next viewing. Because I already knew the basics of the story, I could better separate the narrative wheat from the chaff and not become quite as distracted by Nolan’s attempts to add “complexity” to the experience.

On one hand, I admire Nolan’s unwillingness to create a film that sticks with all the usual conventions. He became arguably the hottest semi-young director out there today because he makes movies with ambition, so it becomes tough to get mad at him for his excesses.

However, Nolan sometimes seems eager to overcomplicate his movies just for the sake of “complexity”. There must exist a happy medium between the often perplexing story found in Tenet and a more “by the numbers” spy tale.

Nolan fans will find the closest analogy to 2010’s Inception, another spy movie with a twist. Indeed, one glimpse back at my review of Inception reveals some of the same criticisms I level here, mainly related to the way that Nolan takes an inherently simple story and makes it excessively complicated.

Perhaps it becomes no surprise that like Inception, I find Tenet to offer an interesting experience but not one that wholly clicks for me. At his best with flicks like the Dark Knight trilogy or Interstellar, Nolan created truly great films that I count among my favorites.

At his worst, Nolan remains interesting. Even his weakest studio efforts – which I view as 2002’s Insomnia and 2006’s The Prestige - still offer quality films that just don’t reach the greatness of his better movies.

Like Inception, I’d place Tenet above that “bottom tier” of Nolan, but it never threatens to make it to the upper echelon with Interstellar and the Batman flicks. Honestly, a lot of that relates back to the messiness of the narrative, as even after a few screenings, the story leaves matters so confused that it becomes tough to really invest in the story.

My advice? Try to avoid the temptation to figure out the science behind Tenet. It becomes inevitable that you’ll want to break down the “inversion” content, and that becomes a death trap because nothing here really seems to make sense.

As best you can, just accept that weird “backwards stuff” happens here and try to go with the flow. You probably won’t fully succeed, but the more you can ignore the desire to work out the details, the more likely you become to enjoy the story.

Of course, Tenet doesn’t offer the first “turn off your brain to be entertained” film in history, but it might be the first with such highfalutin aspirations. Usually viewers need to ignore idiotic slips in logic or just general filmmaker stupidity, whereas Tenet distracts because it tries too hard to come across as deep and complicated.

As a basic action flick, Tenet does well, though I admit Nolan threatens to fall into self-parody here. Often criticized for supposedly humorless films, Tenet takes itself more seriously than most of his flicks, and that can become a bit of a drag.

It doesn’t help that Nolan’s ear for dialogue can be made of tin. We find plenty of clunky lines here, and combined with the near-total lack of lightness, these elements occasionally turn off the viewer.

Still, Nolan knows his way around an action scene, and since we find plenty of those in Tenet, the movie manages to come to life on a semi-regular basis. From the literally explosive siege in the opera house to the major military battle in the finale, Tenet brings lots of firepower and visceral excitement to the table.

And that becomes enough to make Tenet an entertaining experience despite its flaws. Even less-than-peak Nolan still becomes better than average, so although Tenet doesn’t live up to the director’s track record, it nonetheless gives us a mostly good ride.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Tenet appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this 4K UHD Disc – much of the time. The filmmakers shot much of the movie with IMAX 65mm cameras, and that used a ratio around 1.43:1.

On the Blu-ray, we see the IMAX shots at the 1.78:1 ratio I mentioned. The rest of the film used a 2.20:1 frame. Expect a roughly 50/50 split between the two ratios.

I expect Nolan films to look great, but Tenet’s use of 65mm IMAX meant it fared exceedingly well. It helped that the 2.20:1 material also featured 65mm film, so Tenet didn’t suffer from any obvious degradation when it shifted between ratios. Sharpness remained top-notch from beginning to end, as the movie boasted tight, accurate visuals.

I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. The image also lacked any forms of print flaws.

Like most other modern action flicks, Tenet went with a fairly standard mix of teal and amber/orange. Limited as the colors seemed, the disc delivered them with nice range and clarity. The 4K’s HDR added zest and impact to the tones as well.

Blacks appeared deep and dense, and shadows showed fine clarity and smoothness. HDR contributed dimensionality to contrast and whites. This became an excellent visual presentation.

In addition, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Tenet excelled, as the various situations allowed for a great deal of active information. Obviously the action sequences fared best, as gunfire, aircraft, boats, bombs and other elements filled the room in a lively manner.

Quieter scenes worked well, too, as they offered an engulfing sense of environment. Music displayed nice stereo presence and used the back speakers for a little boost as well.

Audio quality seemed terrific, with music that appeared full and rich. Speech came across as natural and concise as well.

Of course, effects dominated, and those offered top-notch reproduction. I noticed clean highs with no distortion along with deep, firm bass. All of this combined for a stellar sonic experience.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the film’s Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both discs sported the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack.

As for visuals, expect the usual improvements based on the superior capabilities of the format – and the fact Tenet came from a true 4K source. This presentation boasted stronger definition, colors and blacks, all as one would anticipate. The 4K UHD took an already excellent Blu-ray and made it better.

In addition to the 4K UHD platter, this set includes two Blu-ray discs. The first includes just the movie, while the other brings supplements. There we find four trailers and a documentary called Looking At the World In a New Way.

That program spans one hour, 15 minutes, 22 seconds and involves comments from writer/director Christopher Nolan, producer Emma Thomas, production designer Nathan Crowley, executive producer Thomas Hayslip, director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, stunt coordinator George Cottle, special effects supervisor Scott Fisher, visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson, 1st AD Nilo Otero, IMAX camera technician Scott Smith, script supervisor Steve Gehrke, digital artist supervisor Bodie Clare, supervising art director Eggert Ketilsson, marine coordinator Neil Andrea, boat captain Rob Williamson, set decorator Kathy Lucas, SailGP captain Rome Kirby, costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, art directors Steven Christensen and David Packard, editor Jennifer Lame, composer Ludwig Göransson, associate editor John Lee, and actors John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Dimple Kapadia, Himesh Patel, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Debicki, Fiona Dourif and Yuri Kolokolnikov.

“World” covers pre-production, story, characters and influences, cast and performances, photography, stunts and effects, sets and locations, costumes, music and editing.

My only complaint about “World” stems from its tone, as it tends toward lots of praise and many reminders how hard the production emphasizes practical elements. This feels awfully self-congratulatory and gets a bit old.

Still, with 75 minutes at its disposal, “World” offer a lot of good information, as the segments dig into the challenges well. I’d prefer less self-praise, but “World” still provide a pretty engaging take on the movie’s creation.

Given the director’s track record, every Christopher Nolan movie comes with massive expectations, and Tenet doesn’t match up with the hype. Still, despite an unnecessarily murky narrative, the film packs enough thrills to become an enjoyable journey. The 4K UHD boasts excellent picture and audio along with an informative documentary. Tenet may be lesser Nolan, but that’s still good.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of TENET

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