Epic first trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet hints at mysterious time warping

Christopher Nolan has described his upcoming film, Tenet, as his most ambitious film to date. That’s an interesting claim coming from the director who dreamed up Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and The Dark Knight trilogy. Finally, the first trailer is here to shed some light on what he was talking about.

Nolan’s 11th film, due out July 17, is set within the world of international espionage and stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Kenneth Branagh. While details on the film’s story have to this point been hazy and intentionally kept under wraps, the trailer gives us a little more background.

Beginning with David Washington — who Nolan has said is the hero of the story — scaling a wall like Spider-Man, we hear a voiceover remarking, “We all believe we’d run into the burning building but until we feel that heat, we can never know.” The ominous overtones play over quick cuts of what appears to be Washington’s character experiencing some of the pain points of international espionage: Torture, physical duress, and hospitalization.

The trailer reveals that Washington’s character is trying to prevent World War III. Not, as he asks, nuclear holocaust but “something worse.” He’s given a code word — “tenet” — that will “open doors” that evidently will help him along with the mission. As with other Nolan films, an element of time travel will also be needed for Washington to save the world, evidenced by a flipped car appearing to right itself by rewinding.

Tenet was shot in seven different countries and the trailer makes it very apparent that this international espionage film will be truly globe-trotting. With beautiful shots from around the world and massive set pieces, the cinematography appears to pay some homage to a Nolan classic, Inception.

Warner Bros. will also release a longer prologue for the film before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in certain IMAX theaters, however, there are no plans to release it to the public. A previous, shorter teaser was screened in theaters but leaks to Twitter and YouTube were removed quickly. If you’d like to see the prologue, you’ll probably have to buy a ticket to see Rise of Skywalker in IMAX.

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