Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ finally hits streaming for quarantined audiences

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Tenet' on streaming (Part 1)

When Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi/action flick “Tenet” stubbornly opened in theaters back on Sept. 3, many folks chose to skip it due to COVID-19 restrictions, reducing its domestic box-office to a measly $58 million compared to $302 million internationally.

That’s a huge drop from Nolan’s biggest blockbuster, “The Dark Knight” (2008), which grossed nearly $700 million in today’s dollars (No. 33 all time, adjusted for inflation).

Starting Tuesday, quarantined folks can finally see it on Blu Ray, DVD and Video on Demand via Amazon, Google Play, Apple TV, Fandango Now and Vudu for $19.99.

It notably won’t be available on HBO Max, which Nolan slammed for its decision to stream all Warner Bros. movies the same day as their theatrical releases in 2021.

The film stars Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington, who burst onto the scene in Spike Lee’s “BlackKklansman” (2018). This time he plays a man simply known as Protagonist, who embarks on a time-bending international spy mission.

Like the palindrome title — “TENET” backward still spells “TENET” — Nolan once again grapples with his auteur theme of time. We saw this in his reverse-engineered “Memento” (2000), the dreams within dreams of “Inception” (2010) and his triple timelines of a week on land, a day at sea and an hour in the sky in “Dunkirk” (2017).

Nolan surrounds himself with an elite crew in Oscar-nominated cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (“Dunkirk”), BAFTA-nominated editor Jennifer Lame (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Goransson (“Black Panther”). Surely, their technical mastery will once again earn the respect of Nolan’s most diehard fanatics.

However, casual fans have complained that Nolan’s booming sound design often overpowers the dialogue like Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012). Others remain confused by mind-blowing stories that have become increasingly hard to follow.

Is Nolan’s indulgence in narrative-shattering artistry slowly alienating the masses?

There was a time when every Nolan film was guaranteed to exceed 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, but he’s been slipping as of late. “Tenet” received both his lowest Rotten Tomatoes critics score (71%) and his lowest Rotten Tomatoes audience score (76%).

In fact, Nolan’s last three films have received some of his worst audience scores: “Interstellar” (86%), Dunkirk (81%) and “Tenet” (76%), suggesting an increasing emotional distance amid the technical artistry.

Here’s how Nolan’s films rank among critics and audiences:


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics

“The Dark Knight” – 94%

“Memento” – 93%

“Dunkirk” – 92%

“Insomnia” – 92%

“Inception” – 87%

“The Dark Knight Rises” – 87%

“Batman Begins” – 84%

“Following” – 82%

“The Prestige” – 76%

“Interstellar” – 72%

“Tenet” – 71%


Rotten Tomatoes: Audience

“The Dark Knight” – 94%

“Memento” – 94%

“Batman Begins” – 94%

“The Prestige” – 92%

“Inception” – 91%

“The Dark Knight Rises” – 90%

“Interstellar” – 86%

“Following” – 85%

“Dunkirk” – 81%

“Insomnia” – 77%

“Tenet” – 76 %


Alas, you can’t hit a home run every time. The dude is still a genius. Here’s hoping his next effort better balances art and entertainment, crowd pleaser and Oscar contender.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Tenet' on streaming (Part 2)

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