At last night’s first showings of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, audiences were surprised to find that among the deluge of trailers there was a bit of a special treat: a six-minute sneak peek at Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film, Tenet. The footage isn’t going to be released online anytime soon, and after yesterday’s trailer drop, we figured you'd all be just as hungry for more details as we were. As such, we thought we’d give you a description of what we saw.
The scene opens on an orchestra preparing to play in a symphony hall, and as the mechanized doors of the performance space start to close, a man in a van outside is shown to be listening in via an earpiece. Then the terrorist attack starts, as masked men with machine guns overtake the concert space, holding the performers and audience at gunpoint. We get a shot of a man in a private viewing box looking to his security guard, who pulls out his own gun but doesn’t make any moves.
Back in the van, the man in the front seat says “Wake up, Americans!” in Russian, and sleeping in the back seat are a couple of men in counterterrorism gear, one of them being John David Washington. Sirens blare as police start arriving, and a whole SWAT unit starts pouring into the concert hall, which is revealed to be Russian itself. The unit carts big gas canisters into the building and starts pumping gas into the performance space, putting the concert audience to sleep but leaving the masked terrorists unaffected. With the collateral damage minimized, the counterterrorism unit busts in and starts shooting.
Washington goes upstairs to the private viewing rooms, sweeping them one at a time until he comes across the man we saw earlier. The two exchange passphrases – something like “We live in a twilight world,” and “We have no friends at dusk,” though it’s hard to say given the chaos of the moment – and Washington tells the man that he’s been made, and that Washington either brings him in or has to kill him.
Then there’s a rather harsh cut to Washington down in the concert audience among all the shooting; I’m unsure whether there’s just part of the film cut for time or if that disorientation is intended. The terrorists seem to be planting bombs, and Washington grabs one as the timer ticks down. He is eventually held at gunpoint by a terrorist, and then… something happens, as some pebbles on the ground shake and a sound effect that maybe hints at time travel plays. The terrorist is shot point-blank by an ally, and Washington and his target escape in the van as only the private boxes explode over the still-sleeping audience. The final shots are a collage showing off a boat, Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson, the sea, someone rappelling on a skyscraper, and that time-rewind car crash, at least some of which we already saw in the trailer.
I haven’t the foggiest idea what the context for any of this is or why any of it matters, but what I will say is that it’s a cool scene even without such a minor convenience as plot. The commitment to marketing this thing based only on Nolan’s name and its mysterious time travel conceit is impressive, and whatever's going on here, I'll certainly get my butt in a theater seat this July to find out.