As is the norm with the enigmatic films of Christopher Nolan, the audience often goes into the film with very little clue of what it’s really about. Step forth the trailer for Tenet, Nolan’s latest epic blockbuster that revolves around the world of international espionage and also seemingly, a favourite theme of Nolan’s films, the concept of time.
Whilst there’s certainly a lot to break down in this trailer, the key details are certainly that the plot is very much focused on John David Washington’s protagonist as he is welcomed into “the afterlife”, presumably some form of top-secret spy network that transcends the norms of the traditional spy flick. There’s also a plot to stop World War 3 but interestingly it is not a nuclear holocaust on the cards but something far more complex and sinister that hopefully won’t be revealed until the film actually comes out. Finally, there seems to be a huge deal of exploring and manipulating time, notably in the scene where we see a car crash happening in reverse, so it is exciting to see what kind of spin this particular Nolan outing will have on how it utilises time.
In terms of the cast, it’s clear this is going to be Washington’s film, which is a great opportunity for an actor of his high standards to really flex his various acting muscles in an ambitious way. Robert Pattinson seems to be playing his partner, so their chemistry will surely play a vital role and they will definitely make an exciting on-screen duo. There are cameos from Michael Caine (obviously) and Clémence Poésy, but little is seen of Kenneth Branagh, seemingly the villain of the piece, or Elizabeth Debicki, who both get brief moments on-screen.
As this is a Nolan film, there’s no way this trailer can be dissected without touching on some of the clear technical mastery already on display in such a short clip. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography looks sprawling and bleak, with sharp visuals that use the lighting and colour palettes for maximum effect, offering a taste of how Tenet will look in all of its IMAX glory come the film’s release. Even more intriguing, however, is Ludwig Göransson’s bombastic, electronic score that accompanies the trailer, which definitely teases more about the vibe of the film than perhaps anything else. Given that this is the first time Göransson has worked with Nolan, as Nolan’s usual collaborator Hans Zimmer had conflicting schedules, it’s really interesting to hear Göransson offer his own unique sound to this film, which definitely captures the high-octane, high-concept feel of the trailer perfectly.
As Tenet’s 17 July 2020 release date hurtles ever closer, there will certainly be increased speculation by fans on what the film is really going to be about. However, with Nolan’s claims that it is his most ambitious film yet coupled with the brilliance of this trailer, it’s safe to say that for now, this looks like something special.
Words by Elliott Jones