Writer/Director Christopher Nolan is arguably one of the best known event movie-makers in the world.
With his new film, his protagonist is set the task of saving the world, whilst Nolan is merely hoping to save the movie industry, in a COVID-19 impacted world.
This is monumental movie making in every sense of the world.
Commencing with an intense action scene set in an opera house, the mayhem barely lets up through the 150 minutes of run time.
If you thought Inception was complicated, prepare to be challenged.
John David Washington is the “Protagonist”, a character adept at every skill international espionage demands. However, his life to date is linear, he moves forward in time, never back.
Following a daunting selection process, he is allocated a special mission needing to look at the world in a different way. Time, is not set, it can be inverted, made to move backwards. Whilst handy for the previous weeks lottery numbers, not so much for bad people with apocalyptic intentions.
Enter from shadowy stage left, billionaire “Andrei Sator” (Kenneth Branagh) with stereotypical Russian bad guy accent, a super-yacht on call and some relationship baggage.
Obtaining meeting times with such a character is difficult and unlikely to end well. However, help is at hand for our protagonist, in the form of Sator’s wife “Kat” (Elizabeth Debicki), with her own complicated reasons for assisting.
Few can save the world alone, however “Neil” (Robert Pattinson) transforming from vodka soaked lounge lizard to highly skilled operative, is on hand to help out.
Detailing the plot would spoil the film, doubly fortuitous as explaining the plot might require a Phd in physics. Time bends, stretches, repeats and reverses, to allow similar scenes to be replayed by the same characters with different outcomes.
Nolan clearly has a time obsession and armed with a $200m budget is fully indulged, all of which is up on the screen.
Washington is an engaging believable presence, looking good in combat fatigues or Saville row suits. He is almost matched in sartorial elegance by Pattison, justifying his elevation to the Bat Suit, for his next film.
Holding her own in this man’s world is Debicki, vulnerable one moment, brave in another, constantly telling stories with her eyes in a stand out performance.
Branagh is surprisingly effective, breaking free from his usual mannerisms, he creates genuine menace especially from his quieter scenes.
However, this remains Nolan’s film, with a bombastic score from Ludwig Göransson, threatening to engulf the action and occasionally hampering important dialogue.
And yet, does it matter when completed with such style, finesse and creativity?
Visual treats are everywhere, car chases, airliner/terminal interfaces and fight scenes in reverse. Including an impressive kitchen scene, where a cheese grater is not reserved for the parmesan.
The film contains realistic violence, albeit not gratuitous or shown in any detail, either implied or hidden just out of view.
Whilst not quite hitting “Inception” heights, arguably over complicated and lacking in emotional engagement, this remains top level event movie making from a director at the top of his craft.
Hugely enjoyable in every sense, demanding repeat viewings to process the visual feast.
Prepare for jaw dropping set pieces, great performances and Nolan’s best Bond calling card yet.