Tenet Trailer 3 Explained

Here’s me attemping a Tenet trailer breakdown of sorts.

Tenet Trailer 3 just released online and is taking a movie-hungry audience by storm. For one, its the second major movie trailer release in the past 2-3 months. There’s also the fact that Tenet is one of the few movies that hasn’t announced a release day shift yet and could very well be the first movie everyone sees when theaters reopen all around. And those movie theaters? They’re banking on it.

There’s a lot of stuff in the trailer that still doesn’t make sense or is intentionally vague enough to skirt viewers from figuring out the movie’s plot. That still hasn’t stopped speculation from running rampant on theories about what Tenet‘s story is all about. Does Tenet have time travel? Is Tenet an Inception sequel? Does Tenet contain a World War 3 plot? What was that IMAX prologue about? These are but some questions floating about people’s minds. I’m no expert; just an ordinary Nolan fan myself but the great thing about running a blog is I at least have a platform to voice some of my thoughts. Which I plan to do here.

Tenet Trailer 3 Kenneth Branagh John David Washington

The trailer starts off with Kenneth Branagh (using actor names here since character names are unknown) explaining to John David Washington the importance of a certain weapon. This scene looks like it follows the scene from the second trailer where Branagh welcomes Washington to the afterlife. From the looks of it, it appears Branagh runs a certain spy agency which has recruited Washington for a task. He will have access to some weapons which Branagh advises him to use wisely.

This speech is interspersed with and spread out at certain moments ahead in the trailer. One of the lines from the speech has Branagh asking (seemingly) Washington to prioritize survival in lieu of national interests. “Your duty transcends national interests. This is about survival”, he says.

Tenet Trailer 3 Clemence Poesy

Subsequent scenes show Washington with Clémence Poésy trying to understand what he’s dealing with here. Poésy looks like a scientist type, working in Branagh’s semi-futuristic spy agency lab. She hands over a gun to Washington that lets him shoot backwards. He’s not firing bullets, he’s catching them.

Washington naturally has concerns but Poésy puts it rather blunly: “As I understand it, we’re trying to prevent World War 3”. When Washington couteracts with, “I’m not seeing Armageddon here?”, she further reverts, “No. Something worse”.

Tenet Trailer 3 Clemence Poesy Training John David Washington

These opening moments make it clear that a spy agency is dealing with a kind of threat that’s infinitely worse than World War III levels catastrophic. Combined with the technology, it looks like the tech that’s used to manipulate time is what rival factions are after.

Speaking of rival factions, talk quickly shifts to a person of interest. What follows should be a globe hunt where Washington hunts for this Russian spy who either wants to get a hold of this time manipulation tech, or already has it. This should lead him to Michael Caine who, in his lone scene in the movie, will probably hand over a vital clue to Washington in his search. He welcomes Washington with the words, “I gather you have an interest in a certain Russian national.”

Tenet Trailer 3 Russian National

Pattinson comes to prominence next in the trailer as we see some fun banter between him and Washington. This is where Tenet clarifies what it’s really about. Not time travel, but time inversion. An ability to manipulate time by making things run into reverse. This is Tenet‘s MacGuffin; the actual device that makes it possible will likely never be seen or much detailed, similar to the dream machine in Inception. And since we also never see it in action, it’s something that could be embedded within people, as we see Washington pulling up an object towards him with his bare hands. But we’re more interested in the consequences.

Tenet Trailer 3 Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson: Time Travel?

John David Washington: No. Inversion.

The question this raises is: just who or what we can rewind. Throughout the trailer, we largely see the tech used to rewind objects but it can be used to rewind people as well, as we saw with the SWAT soldiers fighting Washington (“What happened here? Hasn’t happened yet”). Perhaps the rival faction intends to use this tech to rewind time all the way back to an age where none of the world as it is exists. This could be motivated by politics, love or pure old fashioned revenge, or a more cynical outlook toward what society has become (contd. on next page).

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