Has anyone fully understood Inception?

Tenet: The complete plot and the ending explained

It's finally here, the new science fiction film by Christopher Nolan. In the past, Nolan has consistently proven that he loves to play with intricate stories and time. After films like Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk, Tenet is no exception. But what really happens in the film?

Big making-of book for Tenet on Amazon

We sat down and tried that Plot by Tenet break down. Whether we have succeeded in this will probably only become apparent after seeing this huge action blockbuster several times. As always with Christopher Nolan, there are so many details hidden in the story that it is almost impossible to grasp them completely when you first go to the cinema.

In front massive spoilers be warned at this point for obvious reasons.

The full storyline of Christopher Nolan's Tenet

Tenet embarks on a CIA operation at the Kiev Opera to secure plutonium. A group of armed, masked people stormed the hall. In this course we get to know the protagonist played by John David Washington, who works with the CIA and is rescued by a masked man who is killed by a red cord with a round pendant notices.

Watch the trailer for Christopher Nolan's Tenet:

Tenet - Trailer (German) HD

Shortly afterwards, the protagonist is kidnapped. Instead of revealing explosive information to his kidnappers, he swallows a cyanide capsule. As it turns out, it was all just a test, after which the protagonist in inaugurated a secret operation and receives a keyword: It's the title of the film, Tenet. He also learns that a technology exists that allows objects to reverse their entropy.

Two pistol bullets serve as a concrete example in the film. The normal bullet can simply be fired. The inverted sphere - that is, the one whose entropy has been reversed - flies on the other hand back in the barrel of the gunwhen this is pulled. This concept then runs like a red thread through the entire film: Everything can happen forwards and backwards accordingly.

The protagonist in Tenet has to prevent the end of the world

The protagonist receives the order, the source of the inverted objects to be found, as the owner could trigger the end of the world with it. Together with his ally Neil (Robert Pattinson), the protagonist gets to the real villain of the film through an arms dealer in India. It is the Russian oligarch Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) who also trades in arms.

Sator is also in contact with people from the future. In this future the world became destroyed by climate change. Now the survivors are trying to reverse the past, and it is questionable whether that will work at all. As an example, we take the grandfather paradox: If one cancels out the compelling cause of his existence in the past - can he exist in the future?

In order to get to Sator, the protagonist approaches his wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), who is being blackmailed by her husband for a counterfeit work of art. He wins Kat's trust through the project that Artwork from a Freeport stealing at Oslo airport. A plane crash serves as a diversionary maneuver - but in the end it sparks two Soldiers in between, one of them is inverted.

A villain between the past and the future

Nevertheless, the protagonist gets into business with Sator via detours: He offers him to steal weapons-grade plutonium in Tallinn. Also the second heist in the movie However, it is interrupted by an event from the future, namely a car that overturns in the chase. The protagonist finds out that Sator works according to the principle of the pincer attack - in other words: he surrounds his opponent from two sides.

Sator has a kind of time machine which he uses to deal with an event in the present at the same time approximate two time directions can, once forwards and once backwards. That explains why he is always one step ahead of the protagonist. Sator shoots his wife Kat to get the stolen plutonium, which is actually part of a complex algorithm that consists of nine parts.

The protagonist moves through the time machine to save Kat's life. We experience the previous events again backwards and learn that the protagonist is in the course of the plot of Tenet crossed my path several times is. It is he who drives the author who overturns in the chase. And it is he who appears as an inverted soldier at the Freeport at Oslo Airport.

Before the end we experience everything backwards in Tenet

The algorithm still gets into the hands of the villain. He needs this to reverse the entropy of the entire planet, with which all life would be extinguished. Sator's motivation comes from the fact that he has pancreatic cancer. If he can't live nobody should live - that's how he looks at Kat: If he can't have it, nobody should have it.

Kat, who survived and traveled back in the past, eventually kills Sator. In doing so, she reveals herself as the woman from her memory, the jumped off the yacht into the water is. At the same time, a military operation is being launched in the present to thwart Sator's plan for the end of the world. Two teams surround the system with the algorithm. The red team moves forward, the blue backwards.

The protagonist realizes that Neil was the stranger with the red trailer who saved him at the beginning of the film in the opera and later in the finale in the fight for the algorithm. It also becomes clear that the protagonist of the Head of a mysterious organization from the future is. In the final minutes of Tenet he finds himself in London, where he prevents the murder of Kat by Priya (Dimple Kapadia). Mission accomplished.

The protagonist is responsible for all events in Tenet

The entire plot of Tenet is thus in a sense a series of events that took place a long time ago in the future were or are being set in motion. The protagonist from the present wants to save his world - a mission that he almost initiated himself. The people from the future, who want to reverse the past in order to change the course of things, appear as opponents.

It is unclear whether anything would ever have changed in the future. Christopher Nolan consciously plays with the previously introduced possibilities that the grandfather paradox brings with it. In the end, the protagonist also sums up that every generation is responsible for himself and thus tries to save their world. Neil, meanwhile, explains that what happened happened.

  • For further reading: Lost meets Tenet in the next M. Night Shyamalan film

Tenet has been running since August 26, 2020 in German cinemas.

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