Tenet is a 2020 British-American epic spy science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who also produced with Emma Thomas. The film is Nolan's eleventh film in his filmography, and, much as the rest of his films, it is including an ensemble cast such as; John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Martin Donovan, Dimple Kapadia, Clémence Poésy and Himesh Patel.

Much as Nolan's other films, Tenet is also a co-production of United Kingdom and United States, having been produced by Nolan and Thomas' Syncopy Films and Warner Bros. which also distributed and funded the film with a budget of $225 million, becoming Nolan's most expansive film ever made.

Nolan took more than five years to write the screenplay after deliberating about Tenet's central ideas for over a decade. 

Following three delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tenet was released in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2020, and in the United States on September 3, 2020.[2]

Summary Edit

John David Washington is the new Protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle “Tenet.”

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.

Structure Edit

The Protagonist assists in a Central Intelligence Agency operation to foil an opera siege and retrieve a stolen cache of plutonium in Kiev. During the operation, the plutonium is found to be fake, but the Protagonist is saved by a masked gunman with a red string on his backpack. The Protagonist is then abducted and threatened with torture, but he bites on an apparent suicide pill before revealing any information. Upon waking, the Protagonist learns the pill was a test of his loyalty. He is recruited into a secret organisation, given only the information that the word "tenet" and a cross-fingered gesture will "open many doors" for him. The Protagonist infiltrates a facility where he learns that in the future, technology has been developed that allows objects to have their entropy reversed and move backwards through time. The protagonist is shown a bullet that returns to the gun it is fired from.

Tracking the metal from which the reversed bullets are made, the Protagonist infiltrates the compound of an Indian billionaire, with the aid of Neil. He learns that it is in fact the billionaire's wife, Priya, who knows what is happening. Priya tells the Protagonist that the time-reversing technology is under the control of an arms dealer named Andrei Sator, who is in communication with an unknown agency in the future.

In order to get to Sator, the Protagonist approaches Sator's estranged wife Kat. Kat tells the Protagonist that Sator has her under his control, due to a forged painting that she gave to Sator. The Protagonist tries to win the trust of Kat by crashing a cargo plane into a warehouse and retrieving the painting from it within a freeport in Oslo Airport. During the operation, however, the Protagonist and Neil are attacked by two masked men, one of whom is using a time-reversed gun. This attacker escapes before the Protagonist is able to find out who he is.

The Protagonist returns to Kat, asking for her help in meeting her husband Sator. Kat arranges for the Protagonist to attend a dinner party hosted by Sator, but Sator reveals he does not trust the Protagonist. The Protagonist bargains for his life by offering to steal weapons-grade plutonium for Sator.

The Protagonist succeeds in stealing the plutonium case from an armored car, but the Protagonist is interrupted by a time-reversed vehicle. He uncovers Sator and his gang's plot: they are operating a "temporal pincer movement" in which they move both forwards and backwards in time, by means of entering a "temporal stile", called a "turnstile", following the operation and then moving backwards through time. At the "temporal junction", Sator shoots Kat in the abdomen and leaves with her before the secret service arrives to secure the temporal stile. The Protagonist is then able to follow Sator back through the temporal stile, where he turns out to be the driver of the time-reversed car. The Protagonist is able to rescue Kat, but unable to prevent Sator from acquiring the plutonium.

It is revealed that Sator is dying from inoperable pancreatic cancer, and has turned omnicidal, believing that if he is to die, he would prefer to spread death to all humanity. Sator plans to use the plutonium to set off a doomsday device that will reverse entropy for the entire Earth, killing everything on it. Sator plans to return to a time in the past when he was happy with his wife and then set off the device, which is connected to a dead man's switch linked to his heartbeat. The Protagonist, Neil, and Kat follow Sator backwards in time, travelling in a cargo ship container back to Oslo. They infiltrate the freeport art storage facility once again, where they enter another temporal stile that allows Kat to move forwards through time again and have her gunshot wound healed, and where they find that the Protagonist was in fact the masked assailant during their first operation in the warehouse. Further back in the past, a military operation is then launched whereby the Protagonist and Neil attempt to retrieve the doomsday device from an abandoned Soviet-era city, while Kat is with her husband on his yacht, aiming to prevent him from killing himself before the doomsday device is retrieved. Kat kills Sator, but The Protagonist and Neil are able to retrieve the doomsday device in time. During this operation, the Protagonist notices that Neil has a red string on his back and that he was therefore the masked man who saved him at the beginning of the film. The Protagonist then travels further back in time, helping to protect Kat from being killed by Priya, and revealing that he has been leading the organisation for a further two years in the past.

Cast Edit

Production Edit

Development Edit

Christopher Nolan conceived the ideas behind Tenet over 20 years, yet, remarked "I've been working on this iteration of the script for about six or seven years".[5] The title is a palindrome,  reading the same backwards as forwards.[6]

Influences Edit

Nolan made a conscious effort to abstain from any influence of the spy genre other than his own memory, citing that "This is defiently the longest I've ever gone without watching any James Bond film", adding that; "I know as much about the Bond films as Alan Partridge does".[7]

Casting Edit

John David WashingtonRobert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki were cast in March 2019.[8][9]  The casting of Dimple KapadiaAaron Taylor-JohnsonClémence Poésy, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh was announced as filming started.[10]

Himesh Patel joined in August, with Denzil Smith being added the following month.[11][12] Martin Donovan was revealed in the film's first trailer.[13] Sean Avery joined in January 2020.[14] Jack Cutmore-Scott and Rich Ceraulo Ko were included that February and June, respectively.[15][16]

Nolan chose Washington for his performance in BlacKkKlansman (2018). Washington, Pattinson, and Debicki said they were only permitted to read the screenplay while locked in a room. Pattinson based his character's mannerisms on those of author Christopher Hitchens. Kapadia's screen test was put together by director Homi Adajania while working on his 2020 film Angrezi Medium. For one day of work, Caine was merely given his pages and had not heard from Nolan since.

Filming Edit

Principal photography, involving a crew of 250 people, began in May 2019 and took place in seven countries — Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and United States. Filming in Estonia happened in June and July, with the Linnahall, Pärnu Highway, and adjacent streets closed to facilitate it.

Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart expressed concerns about potential disruptions as the original shooting schedule required that the arterial Laagna Road be closed for one month. Production eventually reached a compromise involving temporary road closures and detours, after which the city government granted them a two-day extension. Scenes were shot in Ravello, Italy and Hampstead, England at Cannon Hall late August, and on the roof of the Oslo Opera House and in Tjuvholmen, Norway, and in Rødbyhavn, Denmark at Nysted Wind Farm early that September.

A five-day shoot occurred later that month in Mumbai, where Nolan had traveled in February and April for location scouting. He decided on Breach Candy Hospital, Cafe Mondegar, Colaba Causeway, Colaba Market, Gateway of India, Grant Road, Royal Bombay Yacht Club, and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. A restaurant set named "Chaand" was built near the hotel,[40] but never used, serving only as an alternative. Forty boats were positioned at the Gateway of India, where the crew also rescued a man who had attempted suicide.

A stunt where someone jumps off a building was done in Grant Road, and a helicopter was applied for aerial footage of the hospital. They moved to Victorville, California soon after, disguising it as Oslo, and worked with more than ninety extras.

Instead of using miniatures and visual effects (VFX) for a plane crash sequence, Nolan determined that purchasing a Boeing 747 proved more cost effective.[44] October saw them in a desert outside Palm Springs, where an abandoned city had been constructed and hundreds were clothed in military camouflage uniforms.

Director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema used a combination of 70 mm film and IMAX.

Post-Production Edit

Ludwig Göransson composed the score as Nolan's frequent collaborator Hans Zimmer had committed himself to the 2020 film Dune. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Göransson recorded musicians at their homes. Jennifer Lame replaced Nolan's long-time editor Lee Smith, who was occupied with 2019's 1917. DNEG created about 280 VFX shots.

Runtime Edit

On July 2020, the film's official running time was reportedly revealed to be 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes), becoming Nolan's 6th longest film.[17]

Cast Edit

  • John David Washington as The Protagonist: The film's main protagonist. A secret agent who sets out stopping World War III.
  • Robert Pattinson as Neil: The Protagonist's partner.
  • Elizabeth Debicki as Kat: the estranged wife of Sator.
  • Dimple Kapadia as Priya
  • Michael Caine as Michael Crosby
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ives.
  • Kenneth Branagh as Andrei Sator: the film's main antagonist: A Russian oligarch who is able communicating with the future.
  • Clémence Poésy as Barbara
  • Himesh Patel as Mahir
  • Denzil Smith as Liam: an arms dealer and the husband of Priya
  • Martin Donovan as Victor
  • Sean Avery as Red Soldier 1
  • Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Rich Ceraulo Ko as Timmy

Release Edit

The film was delayed a total of three times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original intended release date was July 17, 2020; it was delayed first to July 31, and later, to August 12, 2020. Afterwards, it was delayed indefinitely for a time before the definitive dates were set on August 26 (United Kingdom) and September 3, 2020 (United States).



References Edit

  2. [1]
  3. Tenet: Trailer for Christopher Nolan film arrives minus release date - BBC
  4. Denzil Smith says shooting for Christopher Nolan's upcoming film Tenet was an 'extraordinary experience' - Firstpost
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