Tenet (2020) – I Think I Understand It?

Tenet (2020) is a movie about time travel, maybe? I mean, I think it is? I guess what I’m saying is Tenet is a confusing movie. And if you’ve seen it or heard anyone talk about it, that’ sprobably not much of a surprise. The time travel logic that the movie uses is confusing. The bad guy’s plan in the movie is confusing. It’s all very confusing. But, let’s see if I can figure it out.

There are people in the future who want to kill everyone in the past because of how we treat the environment. Which sure, I get. And the way they are trying to kill everyone is to use a time machine to get the pieces of a device that will tell them how to build a bomb that explodes back in time? I think that’s it. And the main character is working for an organization called Tenet that is trying to stop that from happening. I guess.

Like, I said, the movie is pretty confusing. And, I think I know why. Time Travel is one of those concepts in movies that is used so often the most audiences don’t need to have the science of it explained that much to be able to buy into it. Like jet packs. Jet packs are in just about every sci-fi movie but I can’t remember the last time a movie took the time to explain how they work or how the fire from the jet pack doesn’t burn the users legs. We, as an audience, just accept it for no other reason then jet packs are just that cool. They don’t need logic or science and no one in the audience will complain. I think, we as a society, have reached that point with time travel in movies. As long as the movie is consistent with how the logic of time travel works in its universe, I don’t care. I’m bought in. This car can go through time if it drives fast enough? Sure. This phone booth goes through time? Fine. You need to go back in time to stop the robots and this time machine will only work if the person is naked? Sounds about right. We don’t need the science of it. We don’t need all the science mumbo jumbo jargon that probably doesn’t even make sense to smart people. All you need is “Hey, we have this time machine and in simplest terms it works like this…” and the audience is happy. Tenet however doesn’t do this, and suffers for it.

Tenet feels the need to get in the nitty-gritty of time travel science, talking about radiation and what have you. It spends too much time in the movie telling us how the time machine works to essentially say “the machine will make it so time starts moving backwards for you.” Especially when all that jargon they use never comes back and become relevant in the end of the movie. So much time is spent explaining the non-sense time travel rules and the exact opposite is done when it comes to th villains plan. A very little amount of time is spent explaining that and it makes the second half of the movie a confusing mess because its hard to fully understand the stakes of what’s going on. So much confusing jargon is used on the time travel that that when it comes time to learn about the villain’s plan, the audience is still trying to wrap their head around the time travel that they miss it.

I just think that this movie, and time travel movies as a whole, would be a lot more fun if less time was spent trying to explain the “science” of it and just focused on making a good movie. Tenet specifically suffers from just being a confusing mess from start to finish.

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