RT Podcast

"Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong" About... Tenet

We're going backwards in time almost a year (passing our forward-moving selves and confusing the s--t out of everyone watching us) to ask whether Christopher Nolan's Tenet is a masterful puzzle or mind-melting mess?

by | June 24, 2021 | Comments

Tenet

(Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon / © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was supposed to be the movie that saved cinemas when it opened, after numerous delays, in September 2020. And while the mind-melting film did manage a reported $20 million debut – not bad considering the restricted-capacity seating and the limited number of cinemas that were open at this time of the pandemic – that number was seen as soft enough that various studios began to push their big tentpole releases further back in the year and into 2021 to avoid the same fate. Nolan’s hyped-up actioner had landed not with an Inception-esque BWONG!, but with a whimper – one that left Hollywood feeling nervous.


Listen Now: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher TuneIn | Google Podcasts | Radio Public | Deezer | iHeart | Art19


Meanwhile, many audiences were left feeling deeply confused. Officially billed as a movie about a secret agent (John David Washington) on a time-bending mission to prevent the outbreak of World War III, Tenet was seen by some to be completely impenetrable – the kind of movie in which bullets move backwards in time (because… radiation?), characters literally tell each other not to bother following along with what’s going on (as other versions of themselves stroll by… backwards), but in which everyone looks very, very cool in their awesomely tailored threads. It made Inception seem like a kindergarten worksheet; it made no sense (right?), but damn that highway sequence was cool!

In its wake, a whole industry of “Tenet Explained” articles and videos popped up, and those who wanted to put in the work devoured them as they rewatched the movie backwards and forward – with subtitles on. Others simply went, “Meh,” believing Nolan had disappeared too far up his own Rabbit Hole this time around. Critics were relatively kind, though, but many noted that while it was dazzling to look at and experience, the movie sacrificed character and depth in favor of incompressible spectacle. And then there was the sound. At 70% Fresh on the Tomatometer, it is the lowest-scoring movie of Nolan’s career. But should it be?



That’s what we’re asking in the latest episode of our podcast, Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes), where co-hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis are joined by Mike Kalinowski, actor (Black Monday), podcaster, and five-time Trivia Schmoedown Champion. Will he convince them that the movie’s Tomatometer score is “insane” and purely a result of people not getting it, man? Or will Jacqueline convince him that it’s a filmmaker’s job to, you know, show a little respect for the folks watching his film? Tune in to find out!

Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”


Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:


If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.


Meet the hosts

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.


Tag Cloud

scorecard Winter TV Fall TV ABC Family live action halloween Best Actress Trivia E3 SXSW Nat Geo Holidays MTV OneApp BBC America Peacock Countdown Marvel Television TBS adventure monster movies serial killer Vudu 2015 Star Trek renewed TV shows American Society of Cinematographers Rom-Com USA Network Holiday cults royal family spanish language MCU telelvision DC streaming service blockbusters Lifetime Christmas movies Mudbound composers Martial Arts Song of Ice and Fire Winners marvel cinematic universe DGA sopranos Year in Review Black Mirror Oscar Black History Month stop motion Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book movies Musical batman Marvel Studios indiana jones SundanceTV Watching Series Disney+ Disney Plus kong Acorn TV cops Animation Calendar RT History Emmy Nominations 1990s Video Games doctor who Tags: Comedy Apple TV+ First Look remakes History Sneak Peek Arrowverse foreign richard e. Grant Fox Searchlight Superheroe rotten Best and Worst comic psychological thriller debate romantic comedy dogs biopic Discovery Channel sitcom Indigenous Marvel thriller DC Universe Esquire new zealand summer TV preview art house classics rt labs dc TV movies marvel comics Amazon Studios ABC Signature Masterpiece Universal Amazon Prime scary movies documentaries toronto dark sag awards X-Men Toys Mary Poppins Returns sequel target scene in color children's TV Premiere Dates Pixar cancelled TV series Character Guide green book olympics scene in color series game show cars BET Awards Best Director talk show australia GLAAD Infographic worst biography 2021 Creative Arts Emmys broadcast spider-man Classic Film BBC One Alien die hard game of thrones dceu spinoff TLC Emmys Pride Month MGM spain CBS Action Schedule Cosplay name the review Elton John Hear Us Out comiccon pirates of the caribbean ID Reality Competition Rocky Fargo scary women HBO Max Tarantino romance fresh book adaptation independent Wes Anderson what to watch Neflix 73rd Emmy Awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Broadway YouTube Red hist Opinion Country SXSW 2022 Sundance Now E! nature Showtime versus YouTube movies PlayStation golden globe awards ESPN docuseries HBO The Walt Disney Company WarnerMedia CNN obi wan Adult Swim Hallmark Paramount Network Music hidden camera suspense CBS All Access TIFF twilight emmy awards Lucasfilm critics Tomatazos VICE hollywood disaster latino Funimation Epix films 2018 razzies Netflix Awards Tour Food Network spy thriller new york 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards summer preview Exclusive Video war FXX Nominations Paramount DirecTV Pop Legendary ratings cartoon The Arrangement HBO Go prank PBS scene in color transformers science fiction Paramount Pictures 24 frames 90s scene in color film series dramedy worst movies cooking Apple TV Plus TCA Winter 2020 Election Sundance TV popular Shondaland mutant Universal Pictures Superheroes cancelled television blaxploitation AMC Plus fast and furious nfl rom-coms A24 Travel Channel Ovation kaiju canceled TV shows technology crime thriller joker news slashers APB TV 2020 Television Critics Association mockumentary theme song jamie lee curtis comic books toy story Syfy finale festival political drama Interview slasher Valentine's Day south america Comic-Con@Home 2021 WGN video on demand hispanic heritage month series universal monsters high school comics casting wonder woman justice league Trailer Image Comics PaleyFest rt labs critics edition screen actors guild mission: impossible Turner Summer YouTube Premium Starz Best Actor Comedy cats international GIFs 2016 See It Skip It OWN interviews Star Wars ABC Oscars Rock Comics on TV teaser Spring TV italian sports leaderboard Mary Tyler Moore genre streaming 007 Pet Sematary Brie Larson 45 miniseries 72 Emmy Awards LGBTQ New York Comic Con Sundance robots dexter 99% venice crime drama Teen best Disney action-comedy Horror basketball 94th Oscars 71st Emmy Awards Pop TV young adult FX IFC Films Crackle supernatural crossover superman Stephen King football The Purge gangster adaptation politics Tumblr target Endgame trailers singing competition superhero Nickelodeon Fantasy video boxoffice Mystery adenture mcc nbcuniversal Awards Turner Classic Movies NBC streamig DC Comics The Witch cancelled TCA Spike CMT Biopics saw Photos chucky know your critic Heroines The Academy LGBT TV One laika live event Shudder Binge Guide YA Dark Horse Comics sequels blockbuster concert Western Ellie Kemper Hallmark Christmas movies Lionsgate Logo a nightmare on elm street period drama Red Carpet TCA Awards 21st Century Fox satire NYCC directors CW Seed indie zombies child's play dreamworks based on movie Sony hispanic dragons Podcast IFC tv talk TV renewals Amazon godzilla ghosts Comedy Central lord of the rings diversity japanese Lifetime IMDb TV social media VH1 documentary breaking bad Disney Plus jurassic park El Rey Grammys anthology unscripted Reality boxing RT21 quibi golden globes ViacomCBS Geeked Week true crime halloween tv archives new star wars movies 93rd Oscars National Geographic mob Ghostbusters Mary poppins Extras Pacific Islander Certified Fresh french cinemax Christmas deadpool book TCM award winner strong female leads Sci-Fi stand-up comedy television james bond Avengers witnail Television Academy movie trophy AMC Captain marvel aliens TCA 2017 japan Paramount Plus 79th Golden Globes Awards festivals ITV San Diego Comic-Con Netflix Christmas movies kids zombie parents BAFTA space HFPA Box Office 2019 SDCC screenings rt archives Bravo South by Southwest Film Festival critic resources TNT feel good Cartoon Network VOD BET Chernobyl reviews obituary streaming movies comedies harry potter Thanksgiving Instagram Live Freeform heist movie Set visit Anna Paquin Drama Apple historical drama Polls and Games Musicals FX on Hulu free movies werewolf Hollywood Foreign Press Association crime stoner The CW Trophy Talk MSNBC elevated horror anime zero dark thirty Kids & Family 4/20 binge Star Wars Celebration rotten movies we love Pirates facebook Baby Yoda Sony Pictures animated natural history aapi criterion Disney Channel medical drama A&E revenge Academy Awards Film Festival summer TV posters comic book movie NBA Amazon Prime Video discovery Warner Bros. President franchise Britbox Women's History Month spider-verse Columbia Pictures GoT docudrama christmas movies Best Picture USA Quiz black comedy Fox News vampires Rocketman Focus Features Cannes 20th Century Fox The Walking Dead Mindy Kaling king arthur Hulu BBC Walt Disney Pictures TV Land FOX TruTV canceled Writers Guild of America 2017 Prime Video Super Bowl all-time vs. Comic Book Crunchyroll Family Marathons Native First Reviews Spectrum Originals Disney streaming service travel black spanish psycho Tubi legend king kong reboot asian-american police drama Tokyo Olympics cancelled TV shows Film