Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Tenet from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Warner - 2020
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 151 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC/max CLL: 349/max FALL: 86
Video Aspect: 1.78:1/2.20:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine
Written & Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Music by: Ludwig Goransson
Region Code: A

Release Date: December 15, 2020

"Time Runs Out"


“Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.” – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

My Take:

In a twilight world of international espionage, an unnamed CIA operative, known as The Protagonist, is recruited by a mysterious organization called Tenet to participate in a global assignment that unfolds beyond real time. The mission: prevent Andrei Sator, a renegade Russian oligarch with precognition abilities, from starting World War III. The Protagonist will soon master the art of "time inversion" as a way of countering the threat that is to come.
Before seeing Tenet I had heard from several people who liked it but, found it hard to follow. Not surprising coming from Christopher Nolan. I am a fan of Nolan’s “Inception” which I found intriguing and compelling. I went into viewing this film making every attempt to keep an open mind, paying strict attention to details. As I watched the opening act, I must admit to feeling slightly unsure about some of the subtext but, generally speaking, I had the gist regarding what was happening and who the essential players involved were.

The concept of Tenet is more or less straight forward from a sci-fi genre-based film concept, it’s the execution that proves both interesting and somewhat daunting to keep track of as we, along with the film’s primary character known only as “The Protagonist” follow the breadcrumbs, the first of which (as I learned after watching the opening again) is dropped in the beginning sequence.

Tenet is a mind bending, intelligently crafted espionage sci-fi thriller with a narrative that is conceptually strong and rewarding. I love the proprietary nature of the story’s plot which makes this the kind of film that you don’t just walk in the middle of and pick up for the first time. It demands your attention as the constant shifting of its cascading elements, as well as an understanding of their fundamental rules, keeps you slightly off balance but, prove entertaining. There is plenty of action, suspense and intrigue. The coolness factor runs high as this is an effect laden, and visually involving spectacle, befitting a large-scale production from the imaginative mind of Christopher Nolan. Everything from the cinematography to the eclectic music score, play an integral role in bringing this well-conceived film to life. I thought the international cast led by front man John David Washington and villain Kenneth Branagh, were perfectly placed.

Tenet is a film that begs for multiple viewings. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to take it for another spin to see what new details I can glean from it.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:

Tenet comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Tenet was derived from a mix of IMAX digital/65 mm film sources, and rendered from what appears to be a 4K DI.

Tenet is a sci-fi thriller that clearly adheres to cinematography and visual schemes that are intended to convey the thematic spirit of its subject matter. With a discernible increase in detail and depth the image appears more nuanced when compared to the 1080p version, which is excellent in its own right. Incorporating the IMAX scenes via shifting aspect ratio between 1.78:1 and 2.20:1, the full framed images are at times, simply breathtaking. This is readily apparent in the opening sequence as the law enforcement officers roll out in respond to the take over at the opera house. The film utilizes sepia, autumn schemed color and an overall cooler chromatic aesthetic that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. The beautiful earth toned colors set against the semi cloudy sunny sky surrounding the yacht looked amazing. The catamaran sequence is every bit as captivating, with its gradational grays, blues, and rich blacks.

Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures in the interior of vehicles, the airport storage facility, hotel lobby and, the various uniforms and clothing featured in the story. Wide angle shots of the gorgeous shooting locations and the contrasting cinematography, going from the city, to the desert to the ocean, look great in Ultra HD. I found the application of high dynamic range to be spot on and quite complimentary. Whites are emboldened, detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast abounds, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually rewarding level.

The film contains a host of sequences that take place in low/limited lighting and, the increased dimension in blacks and shadows is excellent. The plane crash at the hangar looked terrific as the deep, rich, delineated black of night was offset by the brilliant flashes of the explosions and lighting/bright colors of the responding/surrounding vehicles.

The difference between viewing Tenet in high definition and Ultra HD isn't quite night and day, but it certainly benefitted from the increase in resolution and, subtle high dynamic range treatment. I was pleased with this presentation and felt that is appeared to faithfully reproduce the film’s elements.

DTS-HD Master Audio:

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my disappointment that Tenet didn’t include an immersive audio track. An immersive listening experience would have enhanced the film’s elements, bolstering the impact of its thematic details. Be that as it may, the 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn’t disappoint and sounds terrific. This is an active audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is quite good as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the various hand to hand exchanges, incursions and vehicle encounters/crashes.

Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and clarity. This is an active mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its potent dynamics. The result is that, where called for, points of contact seem to resonate with tactile low bass impact. As with other Christopher Nolan films the bass here is noticeable up front and can occasionally be on the loud side. In general, the quality of the bass is first rate as it fills the room with clean, occasionally infrasonic, low frequency energy. Dialog is generally reproduced with clear vocal character and excellent room penetration. This is an entertaining audio presentation that compliments the film while making for an excellent home theater experience.

I utilized the Neural:X upmixer in my Marantz A/V processor to watch this film. While the 5.1 channel standard playback was perfectly fine, I highly recommend experiencing this track via the upmixer, if possible.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:

Tenet comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video.

Tenet looks terrific on Blu-ray and features rewarding high-definition video quality that exhibits discerning levels of detail, and excellent rendering that brings out lifelike textures captured by the camera’s lens. Dimensional perspective has a near infinite appeal that can be visually stimulating. Close ups are noticeably refined and revealing of the subtlest details within facial features and objects within the frame. The film teeters back and forth between reserved/cooler color schemes and bolder, vivid tonality. Where appropriate, colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among the limited spectrum of secondary hues. Contrast is boldly applied without overstatement as it empowers whites/grays without washing away detail. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which makes them pop nicely during sequences containing a mix of light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal visible shapes and structure in backgrounds.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Tenet Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Tenet Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Special Features Blu-ray
    • Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of “Tenet” - An hour-long exploration of the development and production of the film as told by the cast and crew.
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

From the mind of writer/director Christopher Nolan Tenet is a mind bending, intelligently crafted espionage sci-fi thriller with a narrative that is conceptually strong and rewarding. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is this Ultra HD Combo Pack that features top notch video quality, excellent lossless sound, and a fan friendly supplemental package. Tenet is a quality film that shines on Blu-ray, earning it a high recommendation from this writer.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems