Christopher Nolan’s new film ‘Tenet’: release date, plot details, cast and everything we know so far

Christopher Nolan's time-travelling epic is fast approaching

Christopher Nolan had described Tenet, the follow-up to his 2017 war epic Dunkirk, as an “event film” – which seems to be a fitting description for every one of his mind-bending sci-fi thrillers to date.

From Interstellar and Inception to the Dark Knight trilogy, bigger is always better and Nolan rarely fails to deliver unparalleled thrills. But he’s a cryptic filmmaker, keeping as many details as possible under wraps until the very last moment.

Ahead of the upcoming release, we’ve gathered all released information about what’s set to be the most gripping release of the summer.

Tenet release date: when is the film in cinemas?

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Tenet will premiere in cinemas in over 70 countries across the world on August 26 after being pushed back multiple times from its initial release date of 17 July, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

A limited US release will then follow on September 2, expanding into more cinemas across the States as they reopen after the pandemic.

The film will reportedly be debuting in IMAX format. The prologue started playing ahead of selected The Rise of Skywalker screenings in December 2019.

The film has also been confirmed to be rated 12A in the UK by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). It was originally advised to be a 15, but the rating was lowered after “making small changes to one scene to remove shots of a man kicking a woman”.

Tenet trailer: is there a trailer yet?

There is! After the second trailer for Nolan’s latest arrived after premiering on Fortnite, a third and final teaser has now been revealed, and they confirm that we’re in for one hell of a trip.

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Although remaining relatively vague, it confirms that John David Washington is a secret agent tasked with stopping World War Three. Still, it looks set to be Nolan’s most mysterious project since Inception – packed with twists and turns.

Check out the new trailers below.

It follows the first trailer which was released online in December 2019, after playing exclusively in cinemas ahead of Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw.

Tenet cast: who is in it?

Nolan reunites with a couple of longtime collaborators on Tenet, including Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) and Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk).

Tenet Christopher Nolan Robert Pattinson John David Washington
Robert Pattinson and John David Washington in Tenet. Credit: Warner Bros.

But it’s also a showcase of new faces for the director – John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) leads the film, and is joined by Robert Pattinson (styled with Nolan’s very own signature haircut), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Debicki, Clémence Poesy, Himesh Patel (Yesterday), and Dimple Kapadia.

Tenet plot: what is the new film about?

As ever, specifics are being withheld – but the film follows a secret agent (Washington’s character, still unnamed) tasked with preventing World War III. The extra twist, making it recognisably Nolan, is that it focuses on something called “time inversion”.

An official synopsis confirms: “John David Washington is the new protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle Tenet. Armed with only one word – Tenet – and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.”

Christopher Nolan Tenet John David Washington
John David Washington in ‘Tenet’. Credit: Warner Bros

A clue to the central narrative of the film may lie in history. The Sator Square (or Rotas Square) is a word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome. It contains five words (the central word being “Tenet”) made up of 25 letters and reads exactly the same forwards as it does backwards. It can be found across Europe, and has been located on different buildings, walls and urban dwellings as early as 79AD. The most famous version is in Oppede, France. One likely translation of the Square is “The farmer Arepo has [as] works wheels [a plough]”.

Sator Square
The Sator Square at Oppède, France. Credit Getty

No, you’re right, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But the symmetrical nature of the square could hint at the time-travel structure of Nolan’s new movie. Could, perhaps, the film revolve around a single point in time, or even feature a narrative that repeats itself backwards in the second half of the story?

Washington teased new plot details in an interview with Total Film. “It’s obviously genre-bending,” the actor said. “It’s its own genre: it’s the Nolan genre.”

Pattinson added, “There’s a point where you’re like, it’s kind of cool, and it becomes so insane that it’s almost frightening.

“I sound like such a moron talking about this stuff. Because on top of the, uh – how would I even say this? Quite advanced theoretical physics; I think I’m allowed to say that – it’s just got a billion different ways to read it.”

He adds: “It’s so complicated; if it wasn’t Chris Nolan doing it, you’d be like, ‘This is an impossible movie.’”

In a May 2020 interview with Esquire, Washington revealed that Tenet and Inception are “related” in some way, confirming long-held rumours that the films are connected.

One thing’s for certain though, even if the plot remains somewhat under wraps – Tenet has a runtime of 149 minutes and 59 seconds. This makes the film one of Nolan’s shortest, 20 minutes shorter than Interstellar, and just one minute longer than Inception.

Where was Tenet filmed?

Rarely one for minimalism, Nolan took his team around the world to shoot the film in seven countries – Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the UK and the US. With a budget of $205 million, making this his second most expensive film after The Dark Knight Rises. No expenses were spared, it seems…

Christopher Nolan Tenet John David Washington Elizabeth Debicki
Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in Tenet. Credit: Warner Bros.

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