Haven't posted here in forever but thought I'd post a review for all you Nolan fans. I'll be stay spoiler free throughout. For some context, I've been a big fan of Nolan since Batman Begins, saw Inception eleven times in its first year, thought that The Prestige and Inception were masterpieces, that Interstellar IMAX was the greatest cinematic experience of my life, I love TDKR, and I saw Dunkirk three times in IMAX.
First I'm going to say my opinion could easily change with rewatches and I hope it does. But this was the most confusing movie I've ever seen. And not in a good way. Coming from someone who thought Inception was relatively simple, easy to understand, and straightforward. It really doesn't help that you have to strain to hear most of the dialogue and chunks of it with critical info is unintelligible. And I thought the sound mix in Interstellar was fine and understand what Nolan was going for, and loved Bane's pre-ADR voice. I watched it in a near-empty theater too, so this would have been even worse in a packed audience with people making noise.
I've never been one to focus on or agree with the "flaws" that people have said have been consistent to Nolan, like too much exposition, weak characters, bad sound mixing, cold and emotionless, etc. But in Tenet these are all actual flaws and on full display. Sadly while it's a much better film than The Phantom Menace of course, it's kind of like George Lucas having total freedom and his weakness and worse tendencies being on display.
The idea is great. There's times when it feels like the film is getting into its element. But sadly...the story is just not that good. I can't help but feel he wasted such a unique concept on a generic save the world plot and just ended up with the most confusing and convoluted James Bond movie ever (more than Quantum of Solace).
Again, I've never been one to complain about lack of emotion or coldness in Nolan films. I actually think it's done excellently in Batman Beigns, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, TDKR, Interstellar. Here the emotional core of the film just feels forced and tacked on. Borden's (Bale's) relationship with his daughter in The Prestige, for example, was done so much better. The cast of characters are...not great. The protagonist is literally called "the protagonist." Loved Inception's whole cast with Cobb, Ariadne, Eames, Arthur, etc. And any lack of development for those characters at least had the excuse that the only "real" characters in the film might have been Cobb and Ariadne. Here, John David Washington is very good but gets little to work with, Robert Pattinson is a lot of fun but he doesn't get much time or development.
So yeah, easily the weakest film by Nolan, aside from Insomnia which I haven't seen. Definitely the worst first impression I've gotten from one by far.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
Dunkirk (nothing wrong with it, just don't love it as much)
I don't want to be too down on it. I enjoyed it well enough, I'll definitely see it again, and a lot of the action was great. But it's no Inception.