Dec 102020

Tenet isn’t one of Christopher Nolan’s better movies but there are some interesting elements and the technical aspects like the visual effects, are top notch and although it’s hard to wrap my head around the concept while watching, it is unique.




Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 151 min. – $44.95 | November 15, 2020

Date Published: 12/10/2020 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Writer(s): Christopher Nolan (written by)
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Martin Donovan, Fiona Dourif, Clémence Poésy

Features: Featurette
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 3

Audio (4K/BD): English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 2.20 (1.78 IMAX scenes)
Video (BD): 1080p/Widescreen 2.20 (1.78 IMAX scenes)
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K), MPEG-4 AVC (BD)
Region(s): A, B, C

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.

THE MOVIE — 3¾/5

Plot Synopsis: Armed with only one word – Tenet – and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

Review: Other than Following, which I have yet to see, I have been a big fan of Christopher Nolan’s films, even ones that weren’t exactly near perfection (like Insomnia or even The Dark Knight Rises), though even those were highly engaging and entertaining, if not bleak in the case of Insomnia. Over the years, I’ve re-watched Batman Begins, The Dark Night, Inception and Interstellar, and they still are great, if not without their flaws, of course. Some of which come front and center in his latest.

Nolan continues his fascination with time from his last two features with Tenent, a movie that certainly is mind-bending, yet also mind-numbing trying to wrap ones head around what’s going on. Sure, I get the gist of as the film in a new way does involve time travel, an inverse side to our world where the past and future converge onto the present. And I applaud Nolan for not merely playing it safe, but unlike Inception where the rules are clearer and easier to comprehend (when it came to the “kick” in each level), here it was difficult to grasp but instead of being intrigued, I had a hard time grasping for other elements to carry me along, most notably a main character with no name, credited as “The Protagonist”, and if it wasn’t Nolan, I would criticize the name alone, something I would’ve come up with during my college days of screenwriting.

This leads to another issue: John David Washington. When I first saw the trailers, thought it was great casting, especially someone who isn’t exactly in the mainstream of stardom yet. While he as the look with a slick wardrobe and thanks to the photography, does seem hella cool. Yet, in action, even though seems to be able to do some of the stunts, doesn’t hold enough charisma to carry the film. Of course, part of the problem also is with the character development. Again, no name and no real background on who he is, where he came from, etc. Even though the development for DiCaprio’s Cobb or McConaughey’s Cooper didn’t go beyond a motivation for their kids, but with “The Protagonist”, we barely get to know anything about him. So perhaps with more to work within the character development department, maybe Washington would’ve shined brighter.

In regards to the supporting cast, no incredible standouts. I did like Robert Pattinson even though his character isn’t all that well fleshed out, but in a secondary role, he’s fine. Elizabeth Debicki is a bit of a fresh face to me and carries herself well enough, doesn’t hold as much of a screen presence compared with Anne Hathaway or Rebecca Ferguson, but serviceable. And Kenneth Branagh, a Brit I believe, once again plays a Russian (as he did in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and I will say he’s as evil as it gets, zero redeeming values. Very much a Bond-like villain.

The next issue, and it’s not as of a big one comparatively speaking, is the dialogue. Nolan is the sole writing credit so he takes the bulk of the blame and I think it’s safe to say, it’s unlikely there were uncredited writers on a project that Nolan had been developing for over ten years. This is a movie that has the villain utter one of the more clichéd lines of, and I’m paraphrasing, “If I can’t have you, then no one will.” I’ve heard variations of this line numerous times when watching true crime (i.e. “Dateline”, “20/20”, etc.). It’s trite and just hokey. Then there is a problem that has plagued other films from Nolan, with sound design where bits of dialogue are hard to understand, and it’s permeated in this one as well. A big concern since 90% of the conversations are significant exposition.

On the plus side, no real surprise that the stunt work including car chases and the all around action like a plane crashing into a building, a kick ass assault at an opera house or a car chase/heist on the freeway, are top notch. Doesn’t quite match anything in Inception (or for an “older” film, The Matrix Revolution) but still highly entertaining and provided some thrills. Nolan has come a long way from Batman Begins where some of the action was admittedly rough. Between Inception and Tenent, does appear he’s getting ready to direct the next iteration of James Bond.

Normally I don’t mention the score but one thing Nolan’s movies, is his collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer and will admit, I adore those compositions, consistently listening to the tracks from Inception and Interstellar. This time around, with Zimmer turning down the chance to work on Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Tackling the score is Ludwig Göransson, who won the Oscar for Black Panther. I know many mock or at least light-heartedly joke on Zimmer’s more bombastic score, apparently Göransson said, “hold my beer”. Not entirely sure what to think of it, but like the plot, it has its uniqueness and listening to the tracks on their own, there are some nice themes, though nothing I’ve heard holds a candle to ‘Time” from Inception or ‘S.T.A.Y.’ and ‘Imperfect Lock’ from Interstellar.

Yeah, that was a lengthy paragraph just to talk about the score. Not a music wonk by any stretch, but it was one of the many aspects that I focus on when it comes to Christopher Nolan’s movies.

In the end, Tenent is not top tier work from Nolan. It does have lofty ideas and conceptually it did sound interesting and to be fair, some of the execution was well done, particularly with the stunt work. The problem here, it felt empty, emotionless, cold even. I know these are criticisms hurled at Nolan by others for his works anyway, but at least with Inception and Interstellar, I actually cared about the characters while also invested in the story, here, characters were vastly underdeveloped and the story never was quite gripping, for all of the technical achievements (save for the aforementioned sound design for the dialogue). Outside of maybe Robert Pattinson, can’t say the performances were terribly memorable, and even for Pattinson, his character is a blank slate.

I would say if you are a fan of Nolan, there’s enough in Tenent to make it a worthwhile rental, if nothing else. I’m not sure how much replay value it has since I don’t really have a desire right now to revisit, but I’ll at least say there are unique elements that distinguishes it from others.



This release comes in a matted slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.

Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of Tenant (1:15:22) is a lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette that includes on-set footage and production stills plus interviews with members of the cast (John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, etc) and crew (Christopher Nolan, Producer Emma Thomas). Viewable either by chapter or via a play all option.


4K VIDEO – 5/5, BD VIDEO – 5/5

Warner Bros. releases Tenet onto 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray presented with a 2.20 widescreen aspect ratio (and 1.78 for the IMAX scenes). The picture quality on both formats look incredible, detail is amazingly sharp for both close-up and distant shots and colors are more on the natural scale, though there are some bright and more vibrant scenes (and blue hues in the inverse world in one of the turntable sequences) in the more exotic locales or the bright orange/yellow with each explosion. The 4K video is noticeable sharper in comparison, the fine grain and noise is especially noticeable, however the 1080p resolution on the Blu-ray is no slouch, colors might not be as rich (ever so slight edge to the 4K), but you will not be disappointed.

4K/BD AUDIO – 5/5

Both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs come with a standard DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Oh my, even though this isn’t the newer DTS:X or Atmos audio codec, this is an experience. I used the “bombastic” when describing Zimmer’s scores, well Göransson and the sound studios take it up more than a few notches. While dialogue, at least what you can discern, does come across with nice clarity (again, on-location sound design is one thing, studios can only do so much when transferring for the home market), the LFE channel (bass) goes into overdrive, shaking not only the floor but I could consistently hear my walls vibrate and rattle. For me, the gold standard for audio was The Incredible Hulk, this one however blows that film out of the water, it’s as intense as it gets and never really lets up save for the very few “quiet” scenes.


OVERALL – 3¾/5

Overall, Tenet isn’t one of Christopher Nolan’s better movies, probably a step ahead of Dunkirk, but there are some interesting elements and the technical aspects like the visual effects, are top notch and although it’s hard to wrap my head around the concept while watching, it is unique I’ll admit, though I’d say this is a rental because this might be divisive even within a household. Meanwhile, the 4K UHD/Blu-ray combo pack doesn’t have a plethora of features but does include a 75-minute behind-the-scenes featurette/documentary to go along with the astounding video and audio transfers.





The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

  3 Responses to “Tenet 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray Review”

Comments (3)
  1. Unfortunately, when I try to open the Tenet 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray Review and Mister Roberts 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray Review, I can no longer enlarge the photos. Is there a change in the system?

  2. Odd. Will have to look into it. It will take you to the Imgur page and you can enlarge the pic there. Should be fine until I figure out what’s going on.

  3. Looks like this is happening for all of them. Imgur must have changed their coding, no longer can have a direct link. Yet one more thing screwy on there. Guess will have to start using another image hosting site.

    Edit: Oddly enough if you add .png to the link on imgur’s site, it would be the full size as intended. Secondly, once you click that link again on my site, it will open directly as before. So odd. I have sent an e-mail to imgur to see if it’s a site bug or something.

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