Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi espionage drama Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi espionage drama Tenet

John David Washington & Dimple Kapadia in a still from Tenet

Navnee Likhi

British-American filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s staggeringly ambitious, brain-bender sci-fi thriller Tenet is about a CIA secret agent, who must manipulate the flow of time in order to prevent World War III. John David Washington, referred to as the Protagonist in the film, is told to head a secret organisation called Tenet. John meets Laura, a scientist who studies bullets. Laura’s entropy has been inverted so that they can move back in time. The Protagonist traces the bullets to Priya Singh, an arms dealer residing in Mumbai. When the Protagonist meets Priya (played by Dimple Kapadia), she tells him that the bullets had been supplied by Russian agent Andrei Sator, a megalomaniac villain. The Protagonist recruits funny and affable British agent Neil.

The film opens with the Protagonist participating in an undercover SWAT operation at an opera house, where he has to rescue a spy and capture an artefact. The spy is rescued but the Protagonist is captured and tortured before he consumes a cyanide pill. He wakes up to learn that the pill works to camouflage the mission and fake it as a mock exercise. The succeeding scenes unfold in Italy, London, Mumbai, besides many exotic Scandinavian and Baltic locales. The men on mission are shown journeying in-and-out of these countries and also moving around in dusty battlefields where time moves back and forth.

As the mission progresses, the Protagonist and his partner Neil meet Sator’s estranged wife, Kat, who is desperate to rescue her child from her husband’s clutches. Kat tells them that Sator was blackmailing her with regard to a fake artefact which she had sold through him. The Protagonist and Neil meet Sator, who tells them that he has the artefact, which was part of the future-developed algorithm, capable of destroying the world.

Kat tells the Tenet team that Sator was suffering from cancer and he would trigger the algorithm before committing suicide soon. Kat goes back in time to delay Sator’s death while the Tenet team tracks the assembled algorithm to an abandoned Soviet city.

The film is a glossy global espionage adventure showing frantic car chases, brutal restaurant kitchen fights, besides bungee jump from a Mumbai skyscraper. It is exciting to see buildings crumble and reassemble immediately afterwards. The complexities added to the time-travel techniques over the course of film are mind-boggling. Tenet doesn’t really give you the time to understand the plot of the film as there are secrets to be unearthed and puzzling mysteries solved.

Ludwig Goransson’s background score is fascinating. Cinematography by Dutch Hoyter Van Hoytema is enthralling with stunning visuals. Dimple Kapadia’s presence in the role of arms dealer Priya gives goosebumps. John David Washington capably weaves charm and swagger around the character’s no-nonsense ire while Robert Pattinson is convincing in the role of Neil.

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