Public Service Announcement: Tenet Is Not Going to Make Any More Sense Upon a Second Watch

Illustration for article titled Public Service Announcement: Tenet Is Not Going to Make Any More Sense Upon a Second Watch
Image: Warner Bros.

Warning: Light spoilers for Tenet will follow.

Back in September, my roommate and I drove a half-hour to the closest drive-in to watch Christopher Nolan’s latest epic, Tenet. My initial feelings on the film could be boiled down to “Fuck yeah! But what, what actually happened?”


Yesterday, I copped the 4K Blu-Ray, eager to experience it again with the hope of being able to piece it all together. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that didn’t happen.

Many of you may have watched the film for the first time this week and were left with questions such as:

“How does time even work?”

“Who exactly are they blasting on during the last action sequence?”

“What the hell is a temporal pincer movement?”

“Okay, but like, logistically, how does one actually fight a nigga in reverse?”

Yeah, I got no answers for y’all.

I will say the one thing that is cool about the second viewing of Tenet is that is very much a different experience once you’re aware of the twists in the movie’s structure. The underlying “problem” with Tenet is that the more it tries to explain, the more questions it leaves open.

The physics of time have particularly bent my mind. Deadass, I woke up at 3 a.m. last night and couldn’t go back to sleep for an hour because I was too busy trying to make it make sense.

Despite being unable to pierce through the movie’s internal logic, I still really like it. I mean really like it. Mainly for the same reason I’m a very big fan of Michael Mann’s 2008 Miami Vice reboot.


It’s just a fucking vibe, y’all.

Ludwig Goransson’s propulsive, trippy score gives the movie energy and the fact that Travis Scott ad-libs punctuate certain action scenes is just *chef’s kiss.*


John David Washington manages to channel the steely cool of his father while also creating a unique presence of his own. Not to mention the man just looks great in a suit.

While I can’t make heads or tails of how time functions, seeing time move forward and backward simultaneously is just inherently really cool! I can’t even front!


So no, I doubt Tenet is going to make more sense upon further rewatches, but I get the feeling it isn’t necessarily supposed to. When one of the characters is explaining the mechanics of time she tells The Protagonist “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” I think that’s both instructions for the character and the audience.

If you go in expecting a meticulously outlined sci-fi epic where everything more or less makes sense, you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, go into Tenet to see Christopher Nolan making a really good Future song. It might not make much sense upon closer inspection, but damn if it don’t set a mood.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.



Like all Nolan movies it is carefully constructed to let sneery teen nerds go “well I understood it, do you mean you didn’t?” and give them a self appointed false feeling of superiority to everyone else. I don’t understand all the hype he gets.