There’s a lot riding on Christopher Nolan’s time-warping espionage thriller, Tenet. When the film debuts, we’ll see if the director can pull off another beyond-mysterious original plot, if Warner Bros. can make back the $200 million it spent on the movie, and whether or not John David Washington punishing his body to do his own stunts was worth it.
One more thing: Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, some movie theaters have partially made their reopening plans with Tenet’s theatrical release date in mind. And after months of uncertainty, and amorphous release dates, Warner Bros. now says Tenet will officially be coming to select theaters Labor Day Weekend.
However, like many Nolan films, time is subjective, and who knows what could happen between now and September. Here’s everything we know about Tenet so far.
What is Tenet about?
In classic Christopher Nolan fashion—just revisit the build-ups to Inception and Interstellar if you need a refresher—we still don’t quite know the answer to this one yet. Although, as always, we have about a hundred fan theories, a few interviews with Tenet’s cast members (which also includes Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, and Elizabeth Debicki), and two official trailers to work with. But first, let’s get Tenet’s official synopsis down here, for the record.
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.
This is about equal to what Tenet’s trailers have offered up so far. It seems like Washington and Pattinson play special agent types who use some form of time manipulation to stop a World War III-equivalent threat. In the trailer that debuted this May, Washington’s character is doing some target practice, when he pulls the trigger on his gun and a bullet flies from the target into his barrel. His trainer says, “You’re not shooting the bullet—you’re catching it.” Washington’s agent also tells Pattinson’s character that the time-warping we see in the film is “inversion.”
All of that said, this fan theory from Reddit user graciasmatium actually looks like it has something to it—explaining that Tenet is a time-flipping tool. I.e. what we see in the trailers is small-scale inversion, and large-scale inversion might be used as a form of terrorism, revering the world to the beginning of time.
Kenneth Branaugh is the main antagonist. He is Russian and seems to be either have 1) supernatural abilities to invert time or 2) have control of 'TENET' which is a threat to the world
Robert Pattison seems to be his partner who didn't receive the same training as JDW. He is sought out after JDW was captured and trained in local time inversion. He is English, flamboyant and extremely well-trained like JDW.
TENET seems to be the technology that can do 'large-scale' time inversion, not just local, and is a threat to the world.
Something worse than WW3: Reverse flow of time to pre-historic times to before the birth of the universe.
Of course, there are a ton of other fan theories out there, including: Tenet is secretly a sequel to Inception and the entire film will be told out of order, similar to The Prestige. If you want to go on a fan-theory deep dive, make sure it’s with Washington himself—who broke down the wildest ones out there for us, with a bonus Dark Knight ad lib in there too.
When will Tenet be released?
When Warner Bros. released Tenet’s second trailer, fans noticed that something was a little off. During the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, Tenet held tightly to its July 17th release date, but the ending of certain TV spots and the full trailer said “Coming to Theaters,” leading some to think that Tenet would either go straight to video on demand, or get a new release date.
In early June, we heard official word that Tenet has been pushed back another two weeks to July 31st. Then, the film's release date was pushed back again to August 12, all leading to a brief period of time where the film was delayed indefinitely. Now, it seems Nolan and Warner Bros. are a little bit more optimistic. As of late July, the official word is that the film will internationally on August 26 then open in select cities in the U.S. on Sept. 3.
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