After many months — or was it just a couple seconds? Time travel can be so confusing. — Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is finally ready to open in theaters. It’s scheduled to premiere in the United States on September 3, with early access screenings on August 31. Before any of that, though, it’s opening in numerous foreign markets. In countries like England, the review embargo for Tenet just lifted. Which means we’ve got our first reviews of the film right now.

Overall, the word is positive, if surprisingly mixed. Most critics praise Nolan’s eye for spectacle and the blend of action and excitement. A lot mention heavy doses of exposition, and even some befuddlement over trying to piece together the convoluted plot. Others were even more skeptical; The Guardian put their review very bluntly: “Tenet is not a movie it’s worth the nervous braving a trip to the big screen to see.”

Here’s a sample of the first reviews:

Guy Lodge, Variety:

A concrete cornucopia of global chaos and threat, in which humanity’s survival depends on the minor matter of reshaping time and space, “Tenet” looks well suited to an anxious age.

Jessica Kiang, The New York Times:

“Tenet” dazzles the senses, but it does not move the heart.

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph:

Don’t try to understand it – just rewind and enjoy the ride.

Nicholas Barber, TheWrap:

Has the spectacle and the apocalyptic “event movie” grandiosity to tempt people into cinemas.

Jason Gorber, /Film:

Tenet should exclusively be experienced on the biggest screen possible, which, admittedly, is no small feat given our current COVID circumstances.

Mike McCahill, Indiewire:

Like witnessing a Sermon on the Mount preached by a savior who speaks exclusively in dour, drawn-out riddles. Any awe is flattened by follow-up questions.

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies:

There are scenes where there is so much information being parsed out, so much expositional heavy-lifting happening all at once, that the words start to lose meaning.

Merry-Go-Round AKA Tenet
Warner Bros.

Matt Purslow, IGN:

While Tenet frequently has (very serious) fun with its ideas, the time concept sometimes feels like it’s working more in service of creating exciting visual spectacle than the story itself.

Eddie Makuch, Gamespot:

A mind-bender of a movie that has action galore, characters you can for the most part connect with and understand, and a time travel story that doesn't get bogged down in the details.

Jordan Farley, Games Radar:

At times, Tenet can feel like a $200m remake of Primer, with a fiendishly brilliant but confounding narrative that practically demands one or two rewatches to fully appreciate the big picture.

Scott Davis, Hey U Guys:

Its complexities and nuances are such that it is, on first viewing at least, a little hard to follow and some will struggle, more so than ever.

Alex Godfrey, Empire:

By the time it’s done, you might not know what the hell’s gone on, but it is exciting nevertheless. It is ferociously entertaining.

Laura Potier, Starburst:

A staggeringly ambitious sci-fi and sleek, compact action-thriller all in one: Tenet is technically excellent and challenging, pushing boundaries and subverting expectations with the director’s usual elegance.

Catherine Shoard, The Guardian:

Tenet is not a movie it’s worth the nervous braving a trip to the big screen to see.


Merry-Go-Round AKA Tenet
Warner Bros.

Tenet opens in American theaters on September 3, with early access screenings on August 31. If your local theater is open. If not, you may need to time travel to a point when it was welcoming customers.

Gallery — Every Nolan Movie, Ranked From Kinda Good to Masterpiece:

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