Christopher Nolan returns with the first trailer for Tenet

Secret agents! Car chases! Time travel? The thinking person’s blockbuster director is back...


Charles Bramesco


Just as the reviews for Cats trickle out and mark what we thought was the final surprise of the moviegoing year – one unexpected delight more. Today unofficially kicks off the movie calendar for 2020, with a look at perhaps the most hotly anticipated release of next year, from a director who doesn’t do small movies.

The first trailer for Christopher Nolan’s much-murmured-about Tenet arrived online today, foretelling an out-of-the-ordinary espionage picture. We see lots of the standard tropes for the genre – car chases, seafaring escapes, close-range gun battles – but there also appears to be some component of time travel in the mix.

John David Washington stars as an agent inducted into a highly classified program dedicated to forestalling the impending end of the world. But they’re not worried about nuclear arsenals or anything; this will be worse, which poses the question of what could be worse than annihilation raining from the sky. Maybe it’s got something to do with the odd temporal eddies that roll parts of one tableau in reverse while the space around it moves forward.

In true Nolan fashion, the trailer goes light on any clarifying details, preferring to instead show Washington and his castmates (a heavyweight ensemble including a leather-gloved Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Martin Donovan, and Nolan favorites Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh) in action. The set pieces operate on the director’s signature grandeur of scale, too, with men launched from the ground onto the side of buildings and boats perilously sidewinding around wind turbines.

The only thing that the trailer seems to be missing, going from the Nolan playbook, is a man wracked with guilt over his inability to save his wife. Though who knows, it’s all pretty light on dialogue, and Debicki’s connection to the plot has yet to be seen. In either case, it appears to be a Nolan joint as no one else can manage: a combination of blockbuster-caliber Hollywood might and an arthouse cerebral streak. 2020 is going to be a fun year.

Tenet comes to cinema in the US and UK on 17 July, 2020.

Published 19 Dec 2019

Tags: Christopher Nolan Elizabeth Debicki John David Washington Kenneth Branagh Michael Caine Robert Pattinson

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