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  • Better on DVD: This is a film that basically demands re-watches, and benefits greatly from it; numerous fans have admitted since its digital HD release that things become clearer the more they watch the film. Oh, and there's a subtitles option too.
  • Complete Monster: Andrei Sator, dying of cancer, intends to take the entire world with him out of spite. Forming a "bargain with the Devil", Andrei pressured art dealer Katherine "Kat" Barton into marrying him and having a son. Abusive to Kat, she begged for a chance to leave him, with Andrei only assenting if she left their son forever just to hurt her. Andrei beats a man to death with a gold bar for touching his gold supply, later tortures Kat to push the Protagonist into giving him information, and uses inversion to place himself back when he forced Kat to stay with him, intending on ending everything that ever was with the Algorithm at the time when he felt his life was perfect.
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Mahir and Ives both only appear for certain segments of the film, but are among the most popular Tenet members among the audience.
  • Epileptic Trees: After the movie is shown worldwide as of September 2020, viewers had many question on Neil's relationship with the Protagonist and Kat and Max.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The numerous operations Tenet has conducted prior to the Protagonist joining their ranks following the Kyiv opera house siege.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The film is currently enjoying lots of success and has garnered quite a sizable fanbase in India, which isn't anything new for Nolan as his films have always had quite the popularity there, but this time doubly so thanks to the presence of Dimple Kapadia, a very well known and respected Bollywood actress who has an impressive 50 years of film credits, with this being her first Hollywood role.
  • Genius Bonus:
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    • The movie refers each line of the Sator Square, a latin word square made of five lines consisting of five letters-long palindromes. Its words are Sator, Arepo (a minor character), Tenet, Opera (the opening scene's setting), and Rotas (a firm).
    • One character correctly identifies the description of inverted objects as being like Feynman's conception of the positron as a time-reversed electron. This is in fact one of the standard interpretations of antimatter. That idea is brought up further when it is mentioned that touching your inverted double results in annihilation. However anti-matter is a real thing that has been studied and its never been seen to possess reversed causality, reversed entropy, or ontological knowledge of what being some particles come from.
    • Matter-antimatter annihilation is analogous to what happens at the turnstiles: a particle turns back in time, looking to an observer like the particle and antiparticle met and disappeared.
  • Ho Yay: So much of it between Neil and the Protagonist, leading to them having tons of fanarts and Doujinshi.
  • Love to Hate: Andrei Sator can count thanks to being a major threat, monstrously despicable, and being performed by a very intimidating Kenneth Branagh.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • People who enjoyed "Rainy Day in Tallinn" mix the music together with action/intense scenes like this.
    • "[X] amount of dislikes are actually likes because they were inverted."
    • "That part is a little dramatic."
    • "Christopher Nolan saved cinema!" Explanation 
    • "Now what's the next step of your master plan?" "Crashing this plane... But not from the air; don't be so dramatic."Explanation 
    • "I ordered my hot sauce an hour ago."
    • "I'm watching Tenet the way it was meant to be seen."Explanation 
    • The movie's less-than-stellar audio regarding the dialogue has proven to be immensely difficult for Nolan to live down, resulting in videos such as this and more serious ones like this.
    • "I'm the protagonist."
  • MST3K Mantra: Put too much thought into inversion and timelines, and a lot of things fall apart.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Michael Caine as The Team Benefactor for Tenet.
  • Realism-Induced Horror: Set against the backdrop of a war that threatens total annihilation of everything that ever lived, the story is really that of a woman stuck in an abusive marriage whose husband holds their child as bait to keep her in the marriage. Thankfully, things do actually end well for Kat.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The opening half hour has been criticized as the weakest section of the movie as it’s more or less an extended Info Dump. The second half, however, has been praised as moviegoers have mentioned that everything starts to make sense around that point.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Generally seen as a solid film, though most agree that it's far from Nolan's best, being too confusing and not living up to its hype. Still, most agree that the action's great and the overall scope suitably epic. And while some feel the characters and story aren't super well developed (not an uncommon criticism in Nolan's work), they're generally seen as interesting enough.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Anomalous materials with strange properties which could cause the end of the world, an unscrupulous global conspiracy with massive resources and military-grade gear using some of those materials in order to prevent an apocalypse, and another conspiracy which goal is to trigger said apocalypse... TENET is basically an unofficial SCP Foundation movie adaptation. Not only are time manipulation and objects from the future actually part of the SCP Foundation canon, the main threat of the film (a device known as the Algorithm) is similar to SCP-2700, which is designed to cause a "YK-Class Entropic Annihilation Event."
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The expression on Kat's face when they first talk about Sator and the forged Goya drawing in a restaurant. It is the despair of someone who is trapped in a terrible situation: either stay with Sator, or never see Max again.
    • Neil's final farewell to the Protagonist. The Protagonist has seen Neil's inverted body in the pit, and Neil figures out that he won't make it. But it doesn't bother him. He calmly restates that "What's happened, happened," and gently tells his friend, "Now let me go." Neil then reveals that he's known the Protagonist's future self for years—because in the future, the Protagonist recruited Neil for Tenet. The look on the Protagonist's face through this can be summed up to a nonverbal "don't go". Neil assures him that he'll have a lot to look forward to in the future. "I'll see you at the beginning, friend!"
    • The fact that in the end, the trust phrases "We live in a twilight world" "and there are no friends at dusk" gain a more real meaning. Ives leaves with a third of the Algorithm to give the Protagonist and Neil a Mercy Lead to make sure the future antagonists never get it back. Neil himself goes to invert himself one last time to save the Protagonist in the hypocenter cavern. Kat is finally able to raise her son in peace, though some people see her as a loose end. Priya tries to have Kat assassinated, only for the Protagonist to arrive in time to thwart the attempt and kill his "boss". The Protagonist watches Kat and Max walk home from afar...from his vantage of the twilight world of espionage, with no friends at dusk. What eases the weight is the knowledge that the Protagonist will eventually recruit a younger Neil into Tenet for further operations against the antagonists.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Let's just say that if you thought Inception was a hell of a puzzle to decipher, good luck getting through this one with just a single viewing. Articles, videos, and fan-made timeline diagrams on the movie should probably help, too, if that's not enough.

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