It’s felt like a lifetime ago since Warner Bros first released a teaser trailer for the upcoming spy thriller, Tenet. With less than a week away from release, it’s finally going to hit theatres. Nothing, not even the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, could stop director Christopher Nolan from bringing his vision to the big screen. Against all odds, Tenet has stayed its course and has made the August release date! This is all very exciting news for cinema snobs and film buffs everywhere. For the rest of the population wondering what all the hype is about, allow me to provide some context on why Tenet is set to be one of the biggest film releases of the year. Tenet has become something of a collective mystery to be solved due to the film’s mysterious nature. Its trailers have done a fabulous job of rousing our interests without telling us too much.
If you haven’t had a chance to see any of them, I highly suggest taking the time to watch one before returning here. For everyone else, let’s do a rundown of everything you need to know before watching Tenet.
It’s a Christopher Nolan Film
Over the decades, director Christopher Nolan has proven himself to be one of the great cinematic luminaries of the 21st century. This visionary’s oeuvre has been marked by a number of thematic threads. Films like Inception, Memento and Insomnia are fixed on espousing on the foibles of the human mind. Every entry in his Dark Knight Trilogy revolves around the concept of the power of ideas and symbols on society. Interstellar, The Prestige and Inception explore high-concept science fiction ideas with stunning depth and accuracy. All three films also touch on humanity’s hubris in the face of technological innovation. Without a doubt, Nolan’s most experimental film has got to be 2017’s Dunkirk. A historical war film that breaks the narrative convention of character-driven stories. Rather it focuses on the insignificance of human life in the face of death.
As eclectic as Nolan’s films are, they’re all unified by a single theme: time. From his modern art Batman films to sci-fi family dramas, time plays a crucial element in every one of them. Even Dunkirk plays with the concept of the same event occurring in three different time periods and how different individuals experience the passage of time differently. Interstellar and Inception both discuss the horror of chronological fluidity. I could go on all day about this, but the point is, it’s all about time! Right, so why is this long-running theme so important to understanding Tenet? Simply put, I speculate Nolan’s Tenet is going to be the ultimate expression, if not a culmination, of this theme. A grand final chapter to close on, at least for his loose time saga.
The plot of Tenet is essentially about a group of secret agents, from an organization called Tenet, travelling around the world and trying to stop World War III from happening. That’s all Warner’s official statement will tell you. The rest of it is for you to figure out, and boy is its trailers vague as heck. On the surface level, it looks as if it was edited someone playing around with the fast-forward and reverse buttons. For those with a keener eye, you may have deduced that some element of time manipulation is in order.
That has in fact been confirmed in Tenet‘s third trailer in which a character mentions the idea of time “inversion”. We did a deep-dive piece on possible theories regarding how this “time inversion” would play out in the film. I highly recommend you give it a read if you’re hungry for more information. Another interesting hint at why Tenet will be Nolan’s magnum opus is its tagline “Time Runs Out”. Is that just a cool piece of marketing or is it a statement about the director finally taking his theme of time to its natural conclusion? We’ll find out soon enough.
Cast and Production
While the film’s plot and characters are kept strictly under wraps, we do have some interesting details on the cast and behind-the-scenes production of the film. Let’s start with the most prominent members of the cast. BlacKkKlansman actor John David Washington is set to play the main character of the film. As of now, we do not know his character’s name and he is simply referred to as the Protagonist. Here’s a little fun fact: John’s father is none other than the legendary Denzel Washington. Tenet is set to be David Washington’s first starring role in a major blockbuster film. We certainly have high hopes for the man. Another rising star set to be in Tenet is The Lighthouse actor, Robert Pattinson. Much like Washington’s Protagonist, not much is known about the character except that he too is an agent of the organization, Tenet.
Other high-profile actors appearing in Tenet include Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played Quicksilver in the Avengers: Age of Ultron, and The Dark Knight‘s Michael Caine. Taylor-Johnson hasn’t appeared in any of the film’s marketing material so we’ll have to wait to find out what role he’ll be playing in the film. Caine has frequently appeared in Nolan’s films. No doubt his most notable role would be Batman’s butler, Alfred in the Dark Knight Trilogy. The British thespian makes a brief appearance in the trailer and there’s little to no information on his character either. Actress Clemence Poesy appears to be playing some sort of scientist in Tenet and Peter Rabbit‘s Elizabeth Debicki will play a major, undisclosed role in the film.
The production of the film has proven to be just as interesting as the casting choices in the film itself. Much has been said about Nolan’s ability as a technical auteur. Some of his films’ most jaw-dropping scenes were done with mostly practical effects. Remember that mind-bending hallway scene in Inception? Close to no CGI was used on the set. There have been reports that Tenet uses less VFX than one may find in an average romantic comedy film. This means that a majority of all the ambitious action sequences we’ve seen so far in the film’s trailers will be practical effects. The man even bought a real-life Boeing 747 plane to crash on set! Needless to say, we are looking forward to seeing what daring feats Tenet has in store for us.
Armed with all the fact and details, you are now ready to watch Christopher Nolan’s Tenet upon its release in local theatres. In a few days, we’ll finally know the truth behind the film. Be sure to tell us your thoughts on the film in the comments below and stay tuned for more news and a coming review on Tenet!