★★★½ Watched 14 Dec, 2020
Excellent cast (the way Branagh chews his scenes is visceral), technically flawless in every single way, but the plot is so convoluted it deters from thoroughly enjoying the film.
Perhaps it is meant to be seen twice to not be distracted by the time travel twists and turns, but I would argue that I had no problem enjoying Memento (2000) even though it also put my brain into overdrive trying to figure out what was going on and how everything fits together.
The other problem I had was with the lack of any kind of meaningful character backstory that goes beyond the immediate scene (I had the same issue with Dunkirk (2017)). This was clearly by design due to the story, but it prevented me to really feel anything for most of them with exception of the two central characters (Protagonist and Kat), providing only a surface-level connection.
POTENTIAL SPOILER – START
On the flip side, I have to point out how expertly and subtly the director infused a sense of importance in a few key scenes (vault encounter, flipping car on a highway, and the army vehicle during the final assault) even though we, as the audience, had no prior indication of those particular future events. I am not sure how intently one needs to watch the movie to notice this, though.
POTENTIAL SPOILER – END
Overall it was an impressively memorable experience, but not as enjoyable as I was hoping for based on previous Nolan’s films.