It’s hard to write about Christopher Nolan film trailers, which are inevitably like an assortment of puzzle pieces without the accompanying picture of what the finished puzzle looks like. That of Tenet, the director’s latest, is no different.
Tenet stars John David Washington (Blackkklansman) as an agent recruited to prevent World War 3. How? By learning to manipulate time (one of the director’s recurring themes). Only here, it’s not so much “time travel” as it is “inversion”, which he describes as reversing the flow of time. Washington learns to catch bullets rather than firing them, leaps off roofs, gets into fistfights in corridors and stares down Kenneth Branagh, a Russian national who can “communicate with the future”. Along the way, he meets Robert Pattinson, a man whose interests seem to align with his, but who takes much longer to catch on to how it all works.
What is Tenet itself? While it’s described as a password that opens many doors, a throwaway line by Dimple Kapadia hints at it being an organization, possibly the one that’s recruited Washington. “There are people in the future who need us,” she says. “Who need Tenet.” It’s an ominous line intercut with scenes of a concert hall full of unconscious audience members.
Starring Elizabeth Debicki, Himesh Patel, Clemence Poesy and recurring Nolan collaborator Michael Caine, Tenet was originally meant to release in theatres on July 17. Despite reports of Warner Bros. sticking to this release date amid the global pandemic, for now, the trailer simply says: Coming to theatres.