The [only?] blockbuster of the summer is finally here.
In Christopher Nolan’s next hit film, Tenet, the director brings us another trippy, mind-blowing Inception-style movie. Tenet stars John David Washington as “The Protagonist” (which is not subtle at all), a special agent recruited into the mysterious Tenet organization. Tenet’s goal is to prevent World War III through a time-disrupting apocalypse that would end all life (and all time). Featuring mind-blowing special effects, Tenet uses time travel in a way that has never been explored on the big screen before. (In fact, it’s not time travel at all… It’s inversion!)
[Caution: Spoilers] Let’s breakdown Tenet‘s method of “time travel”, easily Nolan’s most confusing plot device within the movie (like Inception‘s wild dream sequences). In Tenet, time travel is actually the ability to move something (or someone) through time inversely. By doing so, one is able to move backwards and reverse time, while the entire world is moving forward around them. By doing so, the film explores time uniquely through the theory of determinism, a philosophy that all events all actions are set already. For Nolan, time is non-linear. It’s a circle that exists in a loop. In Tenet, the past, present and future all exist at the same time and interact with each other. This idea once again interacts with determination theory, by arguing that events are set and the idea of freewill both is [and isn’t] real. As Neil says multiple times in the film, “It happened.” Tenet believes that time is fixed and unchangeable. (Incidentally, this idea should have been fairly obvious in hindsight considering that the film is called Tenet, which means a belief or philosophy, referencing the determinism. What’s more, the title is also a palindrome, symbolic of time’s never-ending loop within the film.) [Spoilers End]
Personally, I loved Tenet’s use of “time travel” in this movie. Nolan is able to cleverly tell a story that was non-linear, able to loop and connect the story with the forward timeline with its inverse as well. Without question, this is no easy task to do as a story. Very rarely do you see paradox-free time travel, and it’s amazing how the story interacts with the other fragments in time. Fans of Nolan’s Inception will appreciate that the action was incredible. Watching people fight in normal time against someone going in the inverse is trippy and mesmerising, featuring bullets that fly into guns, people that seem to fly and even coming back from the dead. Incredibly exciting from start to finish, the film really keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Overall, Tenet is a must-see movie. Not only is Christopher Nolan back, but this is also a strong film to return us to theatres. As bizarre as it is beautiful, this action film is backed by one of the cleverest time travel stories that you’ll ever see.
Tenet is available in Canadian theatres now and opens in the US on September 4th, 2020.