Tenet ★★★½

There's a reductive tendency to view Nolan's work and to demand coherence and legibility. Because Nolan deals with scientific concepts like the physics of space and time or the astrophysics of black holes and wormholes, he himself often consults professionals to refine the accuracy of his films. When Inception or Interstellar were released, viewers were propelled to similarly dabble in research of their own, following celebrity scientists and amateur Youtubers to decipher the math and make sense of the logic.

Yet what's fascinating about Nolan is how he deals with alternative physics as a way to philosophize about universal concepts that transcend space and time, like love, duty, and responsibility. It then proves more fruitful to abstract from the particulars of scientific validity and to think about the universal.

For instance, Interstellar bends the rules of space and time to show how the unquantifiable notion of love can thwart rationality in the face of survival and sway us to pursue the irrational. Tenet presents John David Washington's character with the mission to save the world. The twist of "inverse entropy" reveals that we live in an open system where directionality is fluid and radial, where Forward and Backward don't exist because Backward can be just as Forward. Whereas Interstellar championed a social and planetary responsibility for the future of Earth, Tenet, in suggesting that the past-present-future is cyclical, posits that a true humanism must serve not only future generations but also past generations. Within our linear worldview, Tenet portrays an ecology where humanity is related to itself in a symbiotic way that ripples through both space and time, one that reads the future bleeding into the past through retroactive causality and prospective nostalgia; Or, how history is the way the future overwrites the past. To follow Nolan down his rabbit hole is to discover how viewing the world with more responsibility, generosity, and care can unlock structural change as extraordinary as what he depicts in his films.

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