This article contains mild plot details for Tenet
The opening scene of Tenet takes place in an opera house in Kiev, Ukraine where chaos strikes. From out of the tumult our hero, or The Protagonist as we come to know him, emerges, a nameless man whose face we can't yet see as he leaps up stairs and across bodies. It is the first of many balletic action sequences which the character pulls off during its 151 breakneck minutes.
Nolan has said that he wanted to do for the spy movie what Inception did for the heist movie, taking the traditions of the genres then placing them into his worlds of altered physics. In Tenet he finds the perfect hero for this spy movie in John David Washington, his Protagonist a slick spy who takes on the shifting villains of the story while remaining unruffled.
In one scene he meets Michael Caine's character Michael Crosby in a stuffy members club where he bats away the snooty treatment he receives with humour, telling Crosby, "You British don't have a monopoly on snobbery you know?" Later he is aggressively checked by a security guard to whom he remarks, "Where I'm from, you buy me dinner first".
His on-screen rapport with Robert Pattinson, who plays his ally Neil in the film, is so warm and spirited it makes you hope for a spin-off spy bromance series, though it doesn't seem like a project that's high on Nolan's to-do list. "I have a Masters in Physics" Neil says earnestly at one point."Well try and keep up," The Protagonist replies witheringly.
The question of who should take over as James Bond from Daniel Craig has lingered for years after the actor announced he would be retiring the role, then agreed to stay on for forthcoming Bond 25, No Time To Die.
Washington's Protagonist is Bond without the baggage, the Black hero of an action movie which doesn't have to explain how his race fits into the story. The Protagonist is a force for good in a world of slippery figures, one who takes on the men of the elite who play God over the rest of the world and is a steadfast moral compass in a world which is always turning over on itself.
He's a hero perfect for this moment: a figure of mystery but one that still feels human rather than a cold killer, injecting a sense of humour into the film which doesn't feel forced, telling kitchen full of henchmen with a straight face, "I ordered my hot sauce an hour ago." Written on the film's poster is the tagline 'Time for a new protagonist'. In Tenet, they have found the right man for the job.
'Tenet' is released 26 August
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