Even The People Who Saw ‘Tenet’ Aren’t Entirely Sure What ‘Tenet’ Is About

Soul-searching moral dilemmas asides, Tenet is one of the year’s most anticipated movies. But does Christopher Nolan’s time-bending thriller, starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and a mustache-less Kenneth Branagh, justify the hype? Well, the reviews are out, and the answer is: mostly?

Tenet is currently sporting an 87 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is in line with Nolan’s other films, including The Dark Knight (94 percent), Memento (93 percent), and Dunkirk (92 percent). In case you’re worried about the reviews spoiling the plot, you shouldn’t be, because seemingly no one can make sense of it.

“For once, spoiler sensitivity might be the reviewer’s luckiest break, absolving me of even attempting an explanation of a plot so contorted it’s best not to worry about it. Even the scientist played by Clémence Poésy, here exclusively to deliver exposition, eventually cops out. ‘Don’t try to understand it, feel it’ is the best advice anyone offers,” Jessica Kiang writes for the New York Times, while the Hollywood Reporter‘s Leslie Felperin notes, “If it seems like this review is shying away from describing the plot, that’s not just out of concern to avoid spoilers. I watched the movie twice for this review, and still feel very confused about what is supposed to be going on and why.” Here’s more:


Yet if the characters incur no jetlag, we soon do, a bamboozling consequence of how Nolan’s screenplay withholds even basic information from us. Who are these people? How do they get from here to there so quickly? Why is Washington’s protagonist called The Protagonist? (Seriously.)

The Wrap

Besides, there is one solid reason why Tenet could make a profit: Even if not many people pay to see it, some of those people will pay to see it again and again and again in the hope that, eventually, they will be able to work out what on earth is going on.


There’s something grating about a film which insists on detailing its pseudo-science while also conceding you probably won’t have followed a thing. We’re clobbered with plot then comforted with tea-towel homilies about how what’s happened has happened.

You get the idea… or maybe you don’t [Inception noise].

Tenet opens in the United Kingdom on August 26 and the United States on September 3.