Tenet: Christopher Nolan talks time inversion and Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Christopher Nolan's new film TENET is going to be in theatres at the end of next month, and even though we've seen a couple of trailers for it we still don't really know what this thing is about. The official synopsis just tells us 

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.

So what is time inversion? Nolan told Entertainment Weekly that the concept is "inspired by real-life physics and entropy, a measure of disorder and randomness in thermodynamic systems. " He said, 

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."

Okay, I'm not sure if that description is going to make much sense to many casual viewers, but I'm sure we'll be able to grasp the idea when we're watching the actual movie. The description that TENET is "an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage" is easier for me to understand for now.

Cast member Kenneth Branagh said the film is 

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."

Nolan also gave EW a little insight into the characters, saying that while Washington's Protagonist is an operative for an organization called Tenet, he's not a Bond-like character. He "has a very warm emotional accessibility". Robert Pattinson is playing someone who may or may not be named Neil and is a "slightly rascally character who operates within what they refer to as this twilight world of operatives in different secret services." Branagh's Russian oligarch is "unremittingly dark" and "a pitiless, avaricious, mean, desperate, terrifyingly dangerous individual." Elizabeth Debicki is the estranged wife of Branagh's character, and she develops an "ambiguous and complicated" relationship with Protagonist.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is also in the movie, but hasn't been featured in any of the official stills. Nolan assured, 

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."

TENET is set to reach theatres on July 31st, and I'm fairly confident that it's not going to be spoiled before then.

Nolan produced the film with Emma Thomas. The cast also includes Dimple Kapadia, Clémence Poésy, Michael Caine, Himesh Patel, Martin Donovan, and Denzil Smith.

Source: EW.com

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.