May 22, 2020

Tenet Movie Trailer Explained: What Is Christopher Nolan Up To?

At its core, Tenet is an action-suspense-thriller movie about secret agents trying to prevent World War III. And because this is a Christopher Nolan movie, it involves a lot of mind-boggling twists. As shown in the brand new trailer, Tenet is going to feature time-travel twists. At this point, time-travel in cinema is already kind of overdone. A cliche almost. We've seen a bunch of time-travel movies and they are always the same. But it's Nolan we are talking about here. If anyone can make time travel cool again, it's him. The guy has never made a bad film.

Why is the movie called Tenet? Nolan has never really explained why he chose this as the title for his new film. Tenet is defined as "a principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy." Get what you can from that definition. Maybe we are overthinking in trying to understand why the movie has this particular title.

From the trailer, we see several scenes of time running back. There are bullets detaching themselves from a target and going back into the gun. There are mirrors unbreaking themselves. There are crashed cars uncrashing themselves. Time is being bent back to the past and forward into the future.

Tenet is a film about international espionage and the bending of time. However, the trailer is reluctant in using the term time-travel. It prefers the term inversion. Inversion is defined as the action of inverting something or the state of being inverted.

A dialogue from the trailer:

"He can communicate with the future."
"Time travel?"
"No, inversion."

So what I get from this is that the secret agent gets a picture of the future through inversion. This is a complete reversal of what we usually see in time-travel movies wherein a character travels to the future to learn about the future. In Tenet, the character travels back in time to communicate with the future. This is a very interesting twist indeed.

Another quote from the trailer:
"All I have for you is a word...tenet. It will open the right doors. Some of the wrong ones too. Use it carefully."

This is of course expected to create tension and conflict in the plot. The tenet has to go into the hands of bad people who use it for the wrong reasons. Maybe use it to start World War III. So here's what I understand from what I've seen from the trailer. The good guys want to use the tenet to stop World War III. The bad guys want to use it to make sure that World War III happens.

There are also scenes in the trailer showing people suspended in time. That is they've stopped moving and seemingly put to sleep. However, those with the tenet can still move around. This scenes would remind viewers of scenes from another Nolan film, Inception.

Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Sean Avery, and Denzel Smith.