Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” Explained: Let’s Discuss the Secrets of the Spy Thriller

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Be careful, this text is full of spoilers!

You can watch the new Cristofer Nolan‘s movie called Tenet in theatres in the US, UK, and other countries.

It’s quite typical for Nolan to keep the plot of his movie a mystery until the release, but if you’re sure that you’re going to get it all once you’ve seen it, you’ve probably never watched a movie of this famous director.

Before Tenet was released, we knew the movie had John David Washington‘s Protagonist in the epicenter of a fight to save the entire world. We also were aware that the movie’s central concept is time inversion, which is different from time travel.


The director has made it clear that Tenet is essentially his version of a James Bond movie, which seems about right. The antagonist desires to end the world because of his selfish reasons. And the main character, obviously, has to stop him while being as dramatic as possible.

All this is true for Tenet, but the world where it takes place is much more elaborate and unusual than in any Bond movie (and arguably other movies, too).

Of course, there are huge spoilers here, so if you haven’t watched Tenet, don’t read this.

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In the prologue, the viewers see how the hero of the movie decides to commit suicide in order to help his team, but a mysterious person saves him.


The world of this movie is then explained to us by the scientist played by Clémence Poésy. Basically, some things move backward in time, and those things have bullets among them. The dangerous aspect of the inverted weapons could possibly change their past.

The main character finds out that those bullets lead him to Andrei Sator (played by Kenneth Branagh). With Sator’s wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) ‘s help, the Protagonist arranges to meet the bad guy to find his accomplices.

In Oslo, Robert Pattinson‘s character Neil helps the Protagonist to get into a port. Before that, he gets attacked by an inverted person, who gets away (remember this moment).

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The Protagonist promises Sator to help him with the plutonium he needs. However, the antagonist doesn’t believe him. The main character and Neil plan to get the plutonium before Sator.

Here we find out that Sator’s people have been playing with inverting time to guarantee they know precisely what will happen.

Then everything gets even more complicated. A group of military people come, and we find out that Robert Pattinson’s character has known much more than the Protagonist (and us, for that matter) this whole time and that he’s, in fact, a part of the Tenet organization.

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Suddenly we understand that Sator didn’t want to get plutonium; this whole deal was just a piece of an algorithm, which is supposed to change the entropy of the entire world. This would put the time in reverse, and that signifies the end of the world.

Another plot twist follows, and we learn that the antagonist works for future people, and the world is destroyed there, so they have to go back. The algorithm for reversing time was created by a scientist who split it and hid it in the past. Sator was hired to find the 9 pieces of the algorithm.

The Protagonist and Neil join their efforts with the military team. They all invert themselves to move back in time. The hero is informed that meeting his past self is against the rules.

He won’t be able to stop Sator because the smashed car the hero noticed before was his inverted car. They go to Oslo to get in before created the diversion. Surprise, the person who the main hero fought in the beginning, was, in reality, him, but from the future.

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The team goes through the machine they found at the free port, which means that they’re still in the past, but the time goes normally for them now.

But Sator wants to initiate the algorithm in the past as it’s in the ground in his hometown with a number of bombs. If the weapons explode, the algorithm will be activated.

The main character and his teammates are going to lift the algorithm before the bomb explodes to prevent entropy. Then the viewers watch an epic fight in which half of the people live in the time that goes backward, while for the other half, it’s going normally. The heroes managed to lift the algorithm.

Here we learn that the things we see here are the Protagonist’s present, but for Neil, it’s past as he and others were working backward, while some people, the Protagonist included, were going forward.

The whole thing was created in the future by the main character and the Tenet organization.

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These are the main points of the movie. It’s not about changing the past or future, because the characters are in the same time loop. We can’t say for sure whether anything can be changed in this world at all.

We aren’t experts in physics, so there’s no scientific explanation here, but hopefully, this still has made the brilliant movie Tenet a bit clearer for you. And if you’re wondering whether there will be Tenet 2, read this article.

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