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'Tenet' is Christopher Nolan's "Quantum Cold War" Movie, But is Not About Time Travel According to Robert Pattinson

There’s no simple, straightforward answer for a Christopher Nolan movie. His films have been subject to endless theories and speculation, particularly before they come out. His upcoming feature film Tenet is no exception — very little is known about the mysterious action thriller starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, which has only released one frustratingly cryptic, but very cool-looking, trailer.

But Pattinson is debunking at least one theory about Nolan’s movie: time travel. According to Pattinson, there’s no time travel in Tenet, despite the trailer hinting at some time-warping effects. So if not time travel, what is Tenet about? New supplementary material describes Tenet as Nolan’s “quantum Cold War” movie, which suggests a whole host of possibilities.

Pattinson seems very confused by Tenet in a new profile published by GQ magazine. Even he’s not sure what it’s about, the actor admits, telling GQ, “Even if I had seen it, I genuinely don’t know if I’d be able to…I was just thinking, I just called up my assistant 20 minutes ago: ‘What the fuck do I say [about it]? I have no idea.”

But there’s one thing he’s certain of: there’s no time travel in Tenet. Which debunks the major theory surrounding Nolan’s highly anticipated new film, which stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) as an agent recruited to a mysterious organization that may or may not have the ability to manipulate time. But apparently not travel through it, according to Pattinson, who revealed one significant detail about his character (a fellow agent which he describes as a Christopher Hitchens type):

“He’s not a time traveler. There’s actually no time traveling. [laughs] That’s, like, the one thing I’m approved to say.”

Well, this certainly throws us for a loop. The Tenet trailer heavily hints that time travel plays a part in the film, with the money shot featuring a car that crashes and un-crashes itself, and an enigmatic line from Washington’s character who describes a window riddled with bullets as something that “hasn’t happened yet.” But this doesn’t rule out time manipulation, which seems to be the main sci-fi feature at work here, especially with what we’ve seen in the trailer. Maybe even precognition could come into play? I’m just spitballing here.

It’s clear there are some heady, cerebral sci-fi elements involved, as suggested by a new official behind-the-scenes book for the film titled The Secrets of Tenet: Inside Christopher Nolan’s Quantum Cold War. The “quantum Cold War” is the intriguing thing here, as is the book’s synopsis that describes Tenet as “Nolan’s time-bending masterpiece.” If Tenet is about a secret underground war being waged over abilities to manipulate time, and even reality, then it’s no wonder Pattinson is a little scattered when trying to describe the film.

But Nolan hints that Pattinson is more attuned to Tenet than his answer suggests. “When you see the film, you’ll understand. Rob’s read on the script was extremely acute,” Nolan said in the GQ profile. “But he also understood the ambiguities of the film and the possibilities that spin off in the mind around the story. And so both things are true. Yes, he’s fucking with you, because he had a complete grasp of the script. But a complete grasp of the script, in the case of Tenet, is one that understands and acknowledges the need for this film to live on in the audience’s mind, and suggest possibilities in the audience’s mind. And he was very much a partner in crime with that.”

Tenet is currently scheduled for a July 17, 2020 release.

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