Tenet: 6 Questions We Have About The Christopher Nolan Movie After The Latest Trailer

Tenet Robert Pattinson and John David Washington walk and talk

While we’re still waiting for concrete information on whether or not writer/director Christopher Nolan’s would-be summer blockbuster Tenet will keep its intended July 17th release date, there are other, more pressing questions waiting in the wings that also need answers. This caper, starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, is another Nolanistic time bender, and this latest trailer has started to drop clues as to how it’s all going down in this new film.

But with every breadcrumb of an answer we’ve gotten so far, there’s been at least two more that fall back to the ground, sprouting even more questions. We may not know when exactly those answers are coming at this moment, but that’s not going to stop us from asking the hard Tenet related questions we now have in our hands. Let’s get started, or let’s finish up, depending on how time is flowing in your general location.

Tenet Martin Donovan and John David Washington meet on the high seas

Why Is Tenet Such An Important Word In This Particular Universe?

It’s a word that opens the right doors, and some of the wrong ones. It’s what the people of the future need. Most importantly, it’s the title to the entire movie we’re about to discuss. But what does “Tenet” mean in the world of Tenet?

It sounds like it’s a general concept, and as we’ve heard Martin Donovan tell John David Washington in the trailers, it’s the pivot point this whole world rests on. Just mentioning Tenet could get our protagonist into comfortable positions of information mining, but it could also get him killed. So what exactly is it that people are fighting over?

Tenet Clémence Poesy and John David Washington observing time inversion

How Exactly Does Tenet’s Time Inversion Work?

Part of whatever Tenet happens to be related to is, undoubtedly, the phenomenon of time inversion that the film is going to be working with. Everything from cars unwrecking themselves to bullets being caught by guns is at play, and even the big plane we saw crash in the second trailer is involved in a sequence that sees the crash being unwound. We know what time inversion entails, but how exactly does it work?

Is this a sort of happening that’s localized to specific moments, or is the entire world inverted in these instances? Also, is time inversion consciously triggered, or has this arisen from some sort of accident/experiment? Knowing that this exists apparently isn’t the big Christopher Nolan secret of Tenet; but how and why time inversion exists probably is the $200+ million dollar question this film will answer in theaters worldwide.

Tenet John David Washington wearing an oxygen mask

Why Are Oxygen Masks So Important In The World Of Tenet?

Throughout the marketing materials we’ve seen for Tenet, an important fixture of the action seems to be the fact that John David Washington and Kenneth Branagh’s characters are seen wearing oxygen masks quite frequently. Branagh’s Russian national/supposed baddie in particular has been seen in a car driving through time inversion, threatening Elizabeth Debicki’s character in full view of Washington’s adversarial presence.

Does this mean that a pocket of time inversion reverses the flow of oxygen as well? That seems like the perfect explanation, as if events are running against the natural temporal current, a person’s lungs could be expelling air rather than taking it in. Having your own air supply through specific moments such as these would come in handy, though it does open up another question in this particular tree of thought.

Tenet Clémence Poesy and John David Washington review some machine parts

What Is It That Tenet Thinks Is Worse Than Nuclear Annihilation?

Exposition on the mysterious threat at the heart of Tenet has this event that’s supposed to be averted pegged as worse than nuclear annihilation. World War III is still on the table though, but the prevention of that great conflict is apparently a means to an end. And that end is something so great, radioactive fallout pales in comparison. What could that possibly be? Well, if everything from events to oxygen flow can be affected by time inversion, this is hinting at the short term answer being time inversion itself is the menace.

But if the presumed fabric of time, as well as the title cards styled after shattered glass in the Tenet trailer have anything to say about it, the entire space time continuum could be slowly fracturing. Eventually, the great order of time would break totally, and all bets would be off; dooming our world, and potentially our universe, to the most fatal brand of entropy.

Tenet Kenneth Branagh approaches Elizabeth Debicki in a mysterious room

Is Elizabeth Debicki’s Tenet Character From The Future?

Another surprising development involving Tenet’s branded bad guy is the fact that Kenneth Branagh’s character is now known to be able to communicate with people from the future. Strangely enough, during this latest look at the film, a scene of him walking towards Elizabeth Debicki’s character is shown.

This new knowledge, coupled with an importance that seems to follow Debicki’s elusive figure, has us wondering if maybe she’s someone from the future. Or, maybe she’s the reason that Kenneth Branagh’s character can talk with those further down the road. Either way, Elizabeth Debicki is a key figure in the future of Tenet. It’s just not clear if it’s because of something she’s doing currently, or something that hasn’t happened yet.

Tenet a 747 crashing into a hangar

What’s Up With That Tenet Plane Crash?

As fans of action, adventure, and practical stunts that wreck an actual 747 in the name of a more economically efficient approach, we have to ask one last question about Tenet. And it’s the question pertaining to what exactly is going on with that gigantic plane crashing into a hangar, on the ground, at the insistence of Robert Pattinson’s character.

The fact that Pattinson looks like another fictional surrogate for Christopher Nolan while proposing this Tenet set piece isn’t crazy enough, as this whole exercise clearly has something to do with the film’s general story overall. And again, we’ve seen this moment become an inversion point itself, with debris rushing back up and becoming a part of the destroyed plane, while a crew makes their way to the wreck. But why?

All of these questions will, more than likely, be explained when Tenet opens its doors to the public. But knowing Christopher Nolan and his personal brand, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if we leave the theater with even bigger questions in our minds. In the world of Nolan, it’s not about the answers, it’s about the larger overall picture they’re leading to.

The large picture of Tenet will be unveiled in theaters, in digital, 35mm and 70mm IMAX showings, presumably on July 17th. But when/if any new updates on the film’s release model are broken, CinemaBlend will push past the forces of time and space to deliver such news.

Up next: New Tenet Trailer, David Ayer's Suicide Squad And Space Force Reviews

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.