Quantum physics has never yielded as much. ‘Tenet’ is like an explosion in your brain, an overdose of information that we don’t understand, that escapes our knowledge, that overwhelms and inundates our minds. The grandfather paradox, the algorithm, time travel, investment, posterity, the time clamp … We are not prepared for so many concepts or parallel universes, but we get hooked on the action. And here, it’s some pretty good quality stuff. Special effects that snap you back into focus when the dialogues about the past and the future overwhelm us. Christopher Nolan delivers a master class in quantum physics and at the same time, offers us a visual spectacle that’s guaranteed to have you glued to your seats.
The director of the ‘paranoia tales’ is an expert in leaving our brains smoking. He’s adept at creating worlds where humankind has never gone before. He did it with ‘Memento’ -we are still counting Polaroids-, then came ‘Origin’ -planting ideas in dreams … how? – he repeated it in ‘Interstellar’ – that image of Matthew McConaughey behind the bookshelf in a parallel universe is still stuck in our minds -, and now he delivers the knockout punch again with ‘Tenet’, a production where, although it may not seem like it, everything makes sense. The director leaves us unsettled with the inverted shifts, causing the characters to move backwards and the bullets to relodge within the barrel of the gun. But in the end, everything comes full circle.
And, as we’ve become accustomed, the entertainment is included. Or doesn’t anyone remember the evil Bane jumping out of the plane in the Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’? So, you want to crash a plane into a building, no problem, there you go! Or why don’t we take a moving car and make it drive backwards while the world goes the other way. Nolan’s all about entertainment and he demands a lot from us as spectators, he squeezes our neurons to breaking point, but, in return we do get one heck of a show. And the pack includes, this time, a really bad, baddie: actor Kenneth Branagh, who plays a ruthless and unscrupulous antagonist, eager to control the future.
Who wouldn’t want to change something from their past? This isn’t the first movie, nor I’m sure the last, to delves into time travel, always an interesting topic given how it’s impossible for us human beings. ‘Back to the future’ is the best known example, and the one that shows the danger of changing anything about the past, which is known as the cause-effect law or the butterfly effect: the beating of an insect’s wings can change everything. ‘Groundhog Day’ also plays with the clock: one day repeats itself over and over again, much in spite of what the protagonist, Bill Murray, wishes. Or even ‘Terminator’. Although, we don’t need to go that far back in time, with more recent productions including ‘Avengers, Endgame’, where our dazzling superheroes change the past to avert Thanos from taking power. And one of the most alternative, ‘Mr. Nobody ‘, with Jared Leto: the lives of the same person depending on the decisions they make.
Now that movie theaters are going through their worst spell due to the pandemic, ‘Tenet’ has been a more than welcome injection of revenue. Since its premiere on August 26, it has grossed nearly $ 308 million. So far, the People’s Choice Awards has already nominated it as Best Action Movie of this year and it wouldn’t at all surprise if Ludwig Göransson’s soundtrack, were also to pick up an award, thanks to the permanent atmosphere of tension it generates throughout the entire film. And that’s exactly what Nolan’s productions are: states of tension, mystery, intrigue, suspense. Quantum physics is, in the end, the least of what’s going on. As one of the movie’s characters has already said, “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.”