Tenet ★★★★½

Entropy, as a scientific concept, measures energy. As a concrete fact, matter cannot be created or destroyed. Yet, it can be changed. As energy grows in a system, whether that system be a blazing fire, the cycle of rain, or an entire ecosystem, either equilibrium sets in and the energy is balanced and equally distributed or chaos is inevitable and that energy will spread thin and regroup. This is how entropy exists: forest fires, evolution, and the Big Bang and Big Crunch of our ever-expanding universe. Life from death. Out of the ashes, a phoenix. 

In Christopher Nolan’s 2020 film, long-awaited, Tenet recognizes entropy as not only existing as a constant in our material world, but in the dimension of time itself. Entropy is about the rate of energy and it’s spread and decay, and nothing decays more than time. It slows, it slips, and it speeds forward as your heart beats and your life flashes forward. If energy and matter slip away, breaking apart to create something new, what happens when time does the same?

John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kenneth Branagh star is Nolan’s most ambitious work yet. A spy-thriller with a world-breaking yet possibly world-saving element: the palindrome TENET.

I am not the biggest fan of spy movies. Many people hate the cold realism and focus on plot, exposition, and the world-breaking elements that Nolan tends to focus on more than his characters. The fact that this is a spy film with a reality altering element in it that uses its characters as tools for a concept should make me feel distant from it. However, the ideas are strong enough that they use the characters for such an important and metaphysical purpose that I had no problem loving this film. 

We must look forward and backward at the same time, realizing that for a better world to exist tomorrow, or a million years from now, we must act in accordance to entropy: every action leads to balance or chaos, all things must eventually die to give birth to something new, but when one controls time, one can control the fate of all those around them. 

We live in a twilight world.

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