Warning: there are fairly serious spoilers for the ending of Tenet in here. Beware.
Tenet has sparked off a lot of talking points since it came out a couple of weeks ago: whether Sator might actually have been right all along, how the grandfather paradox actually works, whether Chris Nolan made the sound mixing barely intelligible on purpose. But there's one big moment which nobody wants to talk about. It's the bit where Sir Kenneth Branagh goes bonk off the boat.
You remember the bit: Elizabeth Debicki's Kat surreptitiously squirts the deck of the enormo-yacht with sun cream and water while listening to Sator prattle on about taking the suicide pill. He keeps prattling, she shoots him, he's out for the count. She's got to get rid of the body before alt-Kat from the past brings her son Max on board, because that's a bad vibe for a kid.
So then Kat grabs Sator's lifeless corpse and skids it – schhhklooop! – along the lubed-up strip of wood and off the third storey of the boat. Sator doesn't exactly hang in the air either. His descent comes in three very short stages. First he's off the boat, then his head smashes into a metal handrail on the side of the boat, he spins off, and he hits the drink. Schhhkloop, brrrannngg, sploosh.
It's very, very funny. Oh come on, it is. It's the kind of death you could imagine Nolan might have visited upon a big bad if he'd ever been behind the camera on ChuckleVision. In a film which takes itself extremely seriously, this is one of three comedy moments, of which only one seems deliberate.
There's the Protagonist's "I ordered my hot sauce an hour ago" line, which is great. There's the Protagonist doing backwards pull-ups on a backwards boat sailing past some backwards, which is hilariously po-faced. And then there's this bathetic end to Sator, a growling, bear-like man who had the ability to destroy time itself but dies with an indignity which makes the Wet Bandits' travails in Home Alone look like an exhibition of subtle grace and solemnity.
None of Nolan's films are particularly funny. There are a few little chuckles here and there, but you'd not, for instance, mistake Interstellar for Spaceballs. But for all that giving Sator a You've Been Framed-ready send-off feels like it should be notable in some way, every time I try to mentally analyse it I just say that schhhkloop, brrrannngg, sploosh sequence in my head and start chuckling all over again.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new era, not just for Nolan, but for blockbuster cinema generally. I want Thanos slipping on a banana peel. I want Kylo Ren accidentally rollerskating down a hill. I want Michael Bay building his next explode-a-thon around Mr Bean.
Pratfalling evildoers are the future. Or the past. Still haven't got my head round that.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox
Need some positivity right now? Subscribe to Esquire now for a hit of style, fitness, culture and advice from the experts
You Might Also Like