After over 7 months since being in a movie theater, I finally stepped into my local AMC Studio 28 megaplex. How would I describe it?

Empty.

Seriously, it was a ghost town. Surprising considering the Drive-ins are all sold out for 30+ year old movies but Tenet? I think there were 6 people in my theater. Including myself and my wife.

SIX!

I have been sounding the alarm for some time now in podcasts and various other articles that the future of the theater is in doubt. I saw nothing this weekend to dissuade me of that notion. In fact, I’m pretty concerned that the destruction of cinemas is accelerating.

Pretty close to what mine looked like.

First, you must wear your mask throughout your entire stay there. I can tell you that’s uncomfortable. Especially since social distancing wasn’t an issue, except for the occasional tumbleweed and cricket that kept coming through. Perhaps people will be more comfortable coming to theaters once a vaccine is developed. But can theaters survive that long?

They have no other source of income, at least nothing substantial. No one is going to AMC On-Demand in droves and I’m not certain the other chains even have such a thing. The NFL has TV deals that are their main source of income. Sure, not having butts in the seats isn’t helping and the TV ratings are tanking thanks to their “End Racism” plastered all over the field to remind fans that have been watching a game that is played by over 60% minorities for decades that they are in fact a bunch of racists. Somehow. Still, they can weather this storm. Not indefinitely of course but for this year.

But theaters? They need to overcome a hurdle which, I think, is too high. And they ain’t going to do it with mediocre movies like Tenet.

Boy, I hate to say this because whether you like Christopher Nolan or not, I hate for him to not be successful simply because he’s the only guy allowed to do big-budget, near-experimental films. Tenet is very close in structure to Inception. But while Inception kept it’s convoluted plot anchored by a simple goal and engaging characters, Tenet is too concerned with being clever than engaging.

I still can’t tell you what the protagonist’s name is, and looking it up, it’s because he doesn’t have one. He is simply “The Protagonist.” Well, that’s one way to connect you to him. It’s like those white boxes of generic food that simply read “Noodles” or “Food.” Not engaging.

As with Inception, you’re thrown in the middle of things before any exposition happens. Trying to keep up with what’s going on is near impossible. It’s like listening to a conversation between two people you don’t know, referencing events and situations you couldn’t possibly know about. Sure, that’s probably more like real life but this is storytelling. You have to include your audience somehow.

If the protagonist is thrown into the middle of this crazy situation, he should be learning and we as an audience should be learning with him. But instead, he takes it all in stride and begins making a lot of decisions that leave you shaking your head as if you missed an important meeting.

Do not get up to go to the bathroom, you will have no idea what happens.

It has its moments, it’s not completely incomprehensible. Elizabeth Debicki puts on a nice performance and is the most relatable character. She just wants to be free of the evil bad guy and get her son back. Robert Pattinson is fine. But Kenneth Branagh’s character, while played fine by the actor, is so ridiculously evil, I’m surprised he wasn’t named Snidely.

One thing I liked about Inception is there wasn’t really a bad guy. Maybe DiCaprio’s inner demons, but it really worked without one. It was a heist movie and a good one. This is a time travel movie that makes little sense. Interesting concept but once you think about the ending, you wonder how the movie happened in the first place. Typical paradox stuff that doesn’t hold up.

Looking over at my sleeping wife, I realized this isn’t going to play to the cheap seats if it isn’t playing to an insufferable snob such as myself. I can’t really recommend it, but I do appreciate a swing for the fences and a miss, than most of the safe McMovies we generally get.