Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film Tenet is covered in mystery. There’s still so much that we don’t know but in a recent interview with EW, the director and members of the cast offer up some extra information that teases a bit more what we can expect from the movie.
Before we get into the new details, let’s cover what we know already. Tenet has been described as a “mind-blowing espionage thriller so unique that audiences will puzzle over its intricacies for years to come.” It’s also said to be a “time-bending masterpiece” about a Quantum Cold War. This is the synopsis for the film that was shared:
Armed with only one word – Tenet – and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.
Kenneth Branagh, who plays the villain in the story, talked about the story calling it “an espionage piece that’s dealing with a global threat to the world. A nuclear holocaust is not the greatest disaster that could befall the human race. Tenet discusses an even worse possibility, and it is wrapped up in this mind-boggling treatment of time that continues Chris Nolan’s preoccupations in films way back to Memento, through Interstellar and Inception.”
We know that there’s an element in the story that will be used heavily. That element is called Inversion, and it’s inspired by “real-life physics and entropy, a measure of disorder and randomness in thermodynamic systems.” We’ve seen how this kind of works in the trailer with things happening in reverse, like a bullet being shot back into a gun, among other things. Nolan went on to explain:
“This film is not a time-travel film. It deals with time and the different ways in which time can function. Not to get into a physics lesson, but inversion is this idea of material that has had its entropy inverted, so it’s running backwards through time, relative to us.”
The filmmaker went on to explain John David Washington’s character in the story and offered a description of him, saying, “We’re dealing in a world of espionage, we’re dealing in a world of hidden identities. [John David] is playing an operative who is known by the term ‘Protagonist.’ Tenet is the name of the organization into which the Protagonist gets inducted. He is very much a presence at the heart of the film, but, unlike a Bond, he has a very warm emotional accessibility.”
Nolan went on to talk about Robert Pattinson’s character, saying, “We think he may be called Neil. You never really quite know what’s going on with these identities.” Nolan went on to describe this character as a “slightly rascally character who operates within what they refer to as this twilight world of operatives in different secret services.”
When it comes to Branagh’s villainous character, the actor shared, “He’s a baddie, there’s no question about that. When Chris cast me in the picture, he was at great pains to make sure that I understood that this character was unremittingly dark and that he was a pitiless, avaricious, mean, desperate, terrifyingly dangerous individual.”
Elizabeth Debicki takes on the role of Branagh’s estranged wife. Nolan says that she’s “got herself into a very tricky situation with her husband. Her relationship with John David is ambiguous and complicated.”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson also plays a mysterious role in the film. We haven’t really seen much of him in the trailers. According to Nolan, from what there has been of him, he’s unrecognizable. When talking about this character, the director offered the following info:
“Aaron Taylor-Johnson is indeed in the film. He’s an important part of the film. Yes, there are no photographs of him, this is true. He is briefly glimpsed in the [second] trailer. He’s also completely unrecognizable. There are all kinds of things that happen in terms of where the story goes as the film develops and where it winds up in the later stages that we don’t want to spoil for people.”
I’m fascinated by everything that I’ve heard about this movie! In a separate interview via Deadline, Nolan explained that the movie was designed for the audience’s experience:
“We’re in the final throes of it. I don’t want to say too much about it other than we’re extraordinarily excited about what we’ve been able to do with this material. I think of all the films that I’ve made, this is perhaps the one that is most designed for the audience experience, the big screen experience. This is a film whose image and sound really needs to be enjoyed in your theaters on the big screen and we’re very, very excited for you to see what it is we’ve done. We’ve made big films in the past, but this is a film whose global reach and level of action is beyond anything we’ve ever attempted before. I think we only would have been able to pull off this film with the level of experience we’ve had doing action films in the past.
“The movie has an incredible ensemble cast led by John David Washington who gives the most extraordinary and iconic performance as the protagonist at the heart of Tenet and I cannot wait for you guys to see what he’s done with his character. I’m very much looking forward to sharing the film with you. I’m going to get back to finishing it right now and I look forward to your reaction.”
Tenet will be released in theaters on July 31st.