Since Tenet‘s release a few weeks ago, viewers have already come up with fan theories about the movie.
However, one of the big talking points surrounds Robert Pattinson’s handler character Neil, who, like many other aspects of the film, remains rather mysterious.
The theory doing the rounds suggests that Neil is actually a grown-up version of Max, the son of Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) and Kat (Elizabeth Debicki).
One big hint is the fact that Neil reveals to the Protagonist (John David Washington) that it was “the end of a beautiful friendship” and that a future version of the Protagonist actually recruited Neil for his mission.
Yet we’re not told when specifically in the timeline that happened, raising the possibility that if it was indeed the future, then the child Max may have inverted to the future and grown up to be Neil.
One other reason (albeit slightly speculative) that fans think Pattinson’s character is Max comes from the fact that Max is short for Maximilien in one less-common spelling of the name – and if you take the last four letters and reverse them, you get Neil. There is also the ‘Britishness’ link between him and supposed mother Kat, such as the high fashion sense.
The theory first surfaced on Reddit, but has been shared widely across social media:
Tenet is a very well made film, Neil has to be Max surely
— aidan (@_aidanflynn) September 4, 2020
What if Max, the kid from Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) & Sator (Kenneth Branagh), is Neil’s (Robert Pattinson) younger self?
— Monostatos (@HeadlessFan) September 1, 2020
TENET theory – Neil is the future version of Max. I have no way to explain this, it's just a feeling but it makes sense
— . (@Sammymutd) August 28, 2020
— Kar Vei (@karvei) September 7, 2020
For those who watched Tenet:
Someone said that Neil could possibly be an older version of Max (Kate's son), and I have been thinking about it ever since
— Simone not Thimone (@leizenomis) September 2, 2020
However, there are a few points that could discount the theory, namely the fact that Neil doesn’t seem to care much about Kat or have any significant interactions with her, which would seem strange, especially considering she is motivated by her son.
Neil also suggests he may not be from the future, telling the Protagonist: “You have a future in the past,” inferring that he has aged normally and not at a different rate due to traveling back through time as Max.