‘Tenet’ trailer is addictive, promising another Christopher Nolan spectacle of the mind

What if time was merely a deck of cards in your hand, allowing you to serve the card in any manner you chose? Instead of time traveling, you could invert the flow of time.

In other words, welcome to another Christopher Nolan mind blending session, “Tenet.” The Warner Brothers film is holding firm on its July 17 release date, releasing a second trailer Friday to ante up at the table. Instead of backing off or shifting across the calendar like its protagonists do in the movie, Nolan’s film-which he wrote as well-is keeping it summer date with film addicts. It’s classic Nolan, taking the expected and twisting around to fit his bold style.

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson are the aforementioned protagonists, special agents that are given a particular superpower-type ability to alter the flow of time–something Martin Donovan’s mysterious character labels Tenet. Instead of showing up too late for the gun battle, Washington and Pattinson show up to a crime scene that looks like it already happened … but actually didn’t just yet. When they fire a weapon, the bullet isn’t launching outwards but instead retracting inward.

Washington and Pattinson will attempt to use this newfound power to help prevent “World War III,” only described by one character late in the trailer as “worse.” If your head is starting to hurt, worry not because you are not alone.

Nolan’s film are the brew of filmmaking that stings the nostrils and engages the mind. He’s basically replaced his mind-bender “Inception” with “Inversion” but titled “Tenet” instead. During production, the film was given the surname of “Merry Go Round.” I’ll take “Tenet” out of the three merely because people would be too misdirected going into a film with a theme park ride name.

But if any filmmaker takes moviegoers on a true ride, it’s Nolan. Ever since he pushed us around with the Al Pacino-Robin Williams Alaskan showdown, “Insomnia,” he’s never walked a straight line in his work. He reinvented the Batman film series, dazzled us with “Inception” and swung with the fences with the misguided “Interstellar.” In short, he goes for it every time. No shortcuts allowed for a guy who still prefers to shoot with real film.

Warner Brothers/TENET

Honestly, I watched the trailer four times before writing this and still have 65 questions and 35 theories. It appears that Washington’s character is recruited into some supercop program with the future Batman, and has to take down the seemingly evil Kenneth Branagh. He is a Russian crime lord-looking fella here who chillingly asks Washington’s character, “How do you see yourself dying,” to which the hero here replies, “old.”

After all, the ability in this films opens the right doors as well as some of the wrong ones, according to Donovan’s character. You have a story that plays with time and features a sharp-looking (and dressing) cast with flashy-looking visual effects featuring a car wreck in reverse.

Reverse is the key word here if you are trying to uncoil your brain after watching the trailer a third time. After I post this, it will another few viewings for me. With a Nolan flick, you’ll never figure out completely where he’s headed, like a small piece of a road map trying to find the rest of itself.

All I can say is I am in 100 percent. Nolan takes his time creating. It starts with a small idea planted deep in his brain that he must locate and make into a movie before something dire … oops, there I go again with a previously used Nolan route. This guy nurtures an idea, assembles the parts, puts it all together, and sees it through. No filming delays and set drama. He’s a pro and demands others follow his lead. You wait years instead of a single year or months for his newest offering.

Washington looks strong, stepping into the leading man position in his second important film, following 2018’s “BlackKklansman.” In that film, he had Adam Driver as his right-hand support. Here, he has Pattinson, who was filming his own work as the Caped Crusader when the coronavirus stopped filming worldwide.

If looks could kill, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” would already be a hit.

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