– A viewpoint of your distant neighbour
“A science fiction action thriller” they said. I would rather call tenet an absolute marvel of our time. Or, a marvel of time itself. Although it does take at least a few minutes post the watch time to comprehend what one just witnessed with keen focus, once you get it, you know for sure that Nolan’s mind lies beyond the third dimension…
I mean, if you know about dimensions.. If not, my dear little one, learn the basics even before the title appears..
Tenet showcases stunning visuals carrying complex theories such as paradoxes of time, perceptional inversion, parallel universes and/or timelines, consciousness and more. Now don’t just run away with these terminologies. There’s a lot more than just these in the movie. My say is that it’s a must watch one from Christopher Nolan. It is upon a beloved friend’s ordinance, I project the movie from my viewpoint and point my views towards the subjects involved.
The film opens with a terror attack at an opera that is countered by a group who appear to be Russian soldiers. The protagonist whose identity remains to be the very term “The Protagonist” throughout the film, accompanied by his allies disguise themselves as members of the squad, join the operation. The protagonist identifies his actual allies amongst the whole squad of soldiers using the code “We live in a Twilight world and there are no friends at dusk” using which he identifies is ally held captive and decides to secure him. As the mission to secure an artifact progresses, what seemed to be a counter terrorist operation, appears to involve some sort of conspiracy which is revealed when the Russian soldiers plant bombs, although they take down the terror group. After securing the artifact the protagonist precedes to clear the bombs during which is encountered by a soldier. When the soldier stops him at gunpoint, he is saved by another masked soldier who “unshoots” a bullet from his gun thereby killing the Russian soldier. It appears that the gun shot has taken place in a reverse chronological order thereby hinting that the concept of time inversion that is to follow as the film progresses.
You could take some reference from “The sands of time” if you wish to. Let’s just say that the events occur in a rewind mode of that’s easier to understand.
The protagonist notices some sort of a red string dangling on the soldier’s backpack, not knowing who the soldier would be. After clearing the bombs the protagonist runs with his ally into a van only to find out that it was not his ally but a foe and that has been ambushed. He is held captive along with this actual ally, tortured and identified as a CIA agent when his cyanide pill was seized. The man that tortures the protagonists mentions the time 7 o’clock and when the clock ticks near seven reverses the time in the clock back by 1 hour.
Could Nolan be hinting about the involvement of time travel through this scene?
Just then the protagonist’s friend is lying aside holding a cyanide pill, jumps to him, taking the pill enters mouth and thereby taking is life… Only to awaken elsewhere… Still alive…
No, it’s not a dream in comatose. But I like the way you think..
It is revealed that the cyanide pill was not real and the whole thing was a test. However the artifact remains to be lost and his allies, killed. When the Protagonist awakens, he is revealed that he was in a medically induced coma for a while to set his teeth back and that it was all a test to check if he qualifies for a mission. Yes he did qualify by killing himself by taking the pill instead of giving up his allies in spite of ensuring severe torture such as getting his teeth pulled out. It’s a mission to save everyone and everything. He is advised a code word “Tenet” along a mission to identify the other members and is sent off to a mid sea windmill where he trains his body and boards on to a ship. There starts the real game…
Getting on to the shore, he meets Dr. Laura who stops him from opening a door first, and then inviting him into it once he reveals the code. There we get some warm up to our brains.. Dr. Laura, another member of the secret society, “Tenet” throws some light on the mission, telling him that there’s an ongoing third world war (worse than a nuclear holocaust) that has been initiated from the future towards the present. He is also shown objects whose entropies are reversed and as a result of which the objects move in a reverse chronological order.. Yes in a rewind mode.. He gets to “unshoot” an empty gun which gets loaded with a bullet and bullet that’s staying still gets back into his hand. The scene is recorded by Laura and she plays it both forwards and backwards to explain the nature of it. It’s really interesting to witness that. Accordingly, although those objects appear to happen in a reverse flow of time, the law of cause and effect remained unaltered. That is, when you enact throwing the bullet on the table, in a reverse chronological order, the bullet that’s staying still would get back into your hand. If you stay still waiting for the objects to get back to your hand on its own, well prepare yourself to wait eternally..
Nothing comes to you while you do nothing.. Well, sounds like a good advise in reality.. Doesn’t it?
The protagonist gets to know that these ordinary objects and weapons have been sent by someone from the future who managed to somehow reverse the entropy, thereby allowing those to have an inverted journey which is the occurrence of events in a reverse chronological order. Upon a little enlightenment of what he is sent for, the Protagonist seeks an audience with Sanjay Singh, an arms dealer at Mumbai in India, to get some lead on his mission. There he meets Neil, another CIA agent who seems to know much about the protagonist.. Together they break into Sanjay’s house using a bungee jumping set up, beats his men and encounters him to get necessary information. Priya Singh, Sanjay’s wife mentions the word “Tenet” thereby expressing that she’s the arms dealer in actual under her husband’s name.
“A masculine front in a man’s world has its uses” says Priya Singh. A subtle slap to our reality right?
It is revealed that a man called Andrei Sator, a powerful Russian who made billions from plutonium, is the one who gets the ordinary weapons supplied by Priya and somehow gets them inverted with his connections in the future. The protagonist and Neil escape from this Singh’s house he meets Michael Crosby, a contactee of Priya and a member in the British intelligence in order to get some information about Sator..
From Crosby, the protagonist gets to know that Sator had had emerged shortly after an explosion in Northern Siberia, exactly where a secret/closed city called Stalsk-12 existed during the times of the Soviet Union. The protagonist is informed that Sator can be approached through his wife, Katherine Barton who’s an art enthusiast and receives one of the two fake paintings called Goya from Crosby along with the information that the other fake was auctioned by Katherine which was bought by Sator. The protagonist then meets Katherine with the painting and insists her to arrange her a meeting with her husband claiming that he holds a very good duplicate he had bought from a man called Arepo and that he seeks a bargain business for it. Katherine reveals that Sator controls her through the other fake that he had bought for millions. It is through blackmail and by keeping her son as hostage he had been forcing her to be his wife. She recalls a vacation where she tried to love him, but upon threatening she leaves to the shore for a short while only to find a strange woman diving into the sea out of the hatch and Sator to be missing. Enter Sator’s men while the protagonist offers her a word of getting her out of this. A couple of them walks her away to the car but the protagonist “takes care” of the men and meets her at her son’s school the next day. From her, he gets to know that the painting could be at “Oslo Freeport”, a place that functions as warehouses to secure valuable arts and artifacts. He shares the info with Neil who visits the Freeport and learns about the safety systems in order to plot and break in. Neil suggests a plane running along the runway and crashing it onto the outer wall as the security systems in the inside seems vulnerable during a lockdown due to fire, since the vaults contain gas sprinklers to extinguish fire and a 10-second interval to get out of the doors by picking their locks. With the help of a man called Mahir, the execute the plan using a huge plan carrying gold bars for distraction and breach into the vaults.
There they enter into a strange room separated by a large glass with bullet holes in it. The protagonist notices the smokes and recognises that those bullet holes are not caused because of an event, but they are to be caused because of an event that “is to occur”.
Yes, rightly you have guessed..
You, my dear, are blessed..
Get ready for time inversion.
Oops.. That was a spoiler.. Sorry..
At the end of the room they find an elevator-like machine on both the segments of the room which is called as a turnstile. Enter an inverted soldier out of it who starts attacking the protagonist with some amazing action involving a fight sequence, gun shots and suplexes.. All inverted in time and forward in time at the same time..
Can you imagine?? One of them is inverted and the other is not..
The Protagonist moving forward in time and the soldier, backwards. It’s really awesome to even imagine such a scene. Alongside, emerges another soldier from the other side of the room who runs past Neil in normal chronology. Neil chases the soldier, unmasks him and then runs back to the Protagonist after a couple of seconds that caught him by surprise. By then the protagonist manages to injure the soldiers arm and points the gun at him. Neil stops him from killing the soldier by raising a question of them being compromised. The soldier escapes during a distraction caused by a residual blast outside, in a jiffy. But when the protagonist questions Neil about the other guy, Neil says that he’d taken care of him.
Something fishy.. Isn’t it..?
They pretend lying unconscious and are rescued by the safe keepers of the vaults. The Protagonist then visits Priya back in Mumbai and discusses about what happened. It is from Priya he understands that the turnstile is a machine built in future to invert time and that it was given to Sator. Also that the two soldiers (one inverted and the other not) who emerged from the two sides of the turnstile are the same person.
Well, two people at the same time, one forward in time and the other backward. At null point, there’s only one person. After the trigger of time inversion, that one person becomes two, each having their own chronological sequence. In other words, the person attains a state of divergence and his mind experiences a state of separation, thereby, enabling “HIM” to become “THEM” and each travel along the frames of time in a two opposite sequences. If it’s still confusing, it’s like the origin of duality out of singularity. Consider Yin and Yang becoming two entities emerging out of a point of oneness. Or the big bang. Or a simplistic example of amoeba. The only difference is that the perceptions of them is in contrast One is moving forward and the other is moving backward relatively to eachother.
She advises the Protagonist not to kill Sator, but to find out how he’s being helped and what his true agenda is. She says that they were being attacked by the future and he had the best possibility of solving this. He then meets Katherine, lies to her that he has taken care of the painting and plots with her to stage an affair between the two so that Sator will meet him, at least to finish him. Katherine follows the plan and tells Sator that they’ve known each other for quite some time and that she had invited him for dinner. At the dinner the protagonist introduces himself and when Sator threatens him with a cold blooded murder, he speaks of the Kiev opera. Sator is convinced to hear more from him and invites him to sail with him. During the adventurous boat ride voyage that would send one’s adrenaline gush sky high, the protagonist tells Sator that a portion of Plutonium-241, remnant of a missile was at the opera and that he wants a partnership with Sator to steal it. Just when Sator declines, Katherine unties Sator from the boat, attempting to kill him who is then saved by the protagonist. Katherine confronts the protagonist back at Sator’s place, secretly in his room against his lie about him taking care of the painting from the vault. The protagonist tries to explain but failing to convince her and understanding his fear for the potential danger Sator could cause he hand over his gun to her. Sator summons the protagonist and asks him what he wants in return for saving his life, the protagonist asks him not to harm Katherine and to help him steal the plutonium. Sator then narrates his story of collecting plutonium out of the debris due to an explosion back in his hometown, Stalsk-12 and becoming the who owns the only company to dig the ruins for plutonium. He asks the Protagonist to stay that night with them and visits his wife to confront her. During the conversion, she asks him why he doesn’t let her go. Sator says that if he cannot have her, nobody else can. Just when is about to torture her he is called upon the arrival of a package and leaves her. The protagonist spies Sator receiving the package contains gold bars that are “inverted”, gets caught and his beaten up a little who then reveals that he would steal the plutonium for Sator to pay him while Katherine does the exchange, using her as a leverage. Sator pays him with one “inverted” gold bar.
Now inverted gold bars.. If these bars are inverted, they must’ve been put through that turnstile by someone in the future. So clearly someone’s paying Sator loads from the future. Although these gold bars have reverse entropy, nobody actually knows about it. Only when you perform the action in a reverse order, the idle gold bar will get into your hands. The ones ignorant of this wouldn’t be bothered to discover the nature of is entropy. Besides, it’s GOLD. Who would care about its entropy. Even in case someone tries it of pure coincidence and the gold bar gets back into their hands, that’s gonna freak then out. “Paranormal activity” they would say. So take a chill pill and let’s continue…
As the protagonist and Neil prepare for the robbery of plutonium-241 by highjacking a truck using heavy vehicles and a fast car in order to avoid an ambush from Sator once they secure the package, he explains Neil how Sator does what he does. Sator buries objects from the future using the turnstile process and then digs it up in the present, thereby enabling the burying and the digging to occur at the same time.
Remember when the Protagonist encountered two soldiers who were actually one man emerging from the turnstile back in the vault. Now imagine a team carrying gold and weapons entering into the turnstile from the future, coming to the present and burying it. Now visualise the same in a reverse chronological order. Burying in a reverse chronological sequence would actually appear to be digging in reality. But in the present, the team would be digging out which would appear to be burying as per the inverted team. A little confusing?? Keep that aside…
They continue with the plan to steal the plutonium. Meanwhile Sator is attempted to be shot down by Katherine, but sensing despair in her eyes, Sator beats her up, locks her up and leaves. The protagonist and Neil steal the package but they’re ambushed by Sator in a car.. In an inverted car comes, an inverted Sator with Katherine at gun point where the car is racing in reverse. With no choice left, the protagonist throws the package to Sator who leaves the tied up Katherine in the car and jumps off to another one. The protagonist jumps to the car, hits the brakes and stops the inverted car and saves the girl. In the middle of this sequence, another car lying tumbled down seems to roll back to its wheels. Who knows who that is? Not us.. At least as of now..
Now the confusion we kept aside, let’s talk this way.. I come out the turnstile from the future and you are in the present. Your mother finds me taking your smartphone that has all your secrets in it from your bedside while you are asleep and walk backwards carrying your phone into a time capsule. You wake up and take your phone from the beside. How will the phone remain there? Is that your question? It will remain there because it was me who kept that phone on your bedside from the future. Ever more confusing?? Hahaha relax my dear.
It means that there was no phone with you. You found it magically appear on your beside when you woke up. Because I came from the future to place it there. Since my entropy is reversed, your mother perceived me as stealing your phone. She is just a witness of the occurrence of two opposites. The source of your confusion is your BELIEF.. The source of your confusion is your nature of relating everything to YOUR LIFE.. Or the least, YOUR PERCEPTION of life.. Let go of this “I” factor to transcend time.. And then consider the same scenario..
You hit the bed, doze off, wake up and see the magically appeared phone and wonder how it ended up there. Because you do not know what happened. But if you had known that I would come from the future to place a phone there so that you could take it and use it for yourself, although it happened during your sleep, you wouldn’t be surprised. May be you would stay awake to meet me at the hour I place the phone. There at that point, my reverse chronologically sequenced dimension and your forward chronologically sequenced dimension would come to a point of singularity where I would give the phone from the future and you would take it in the present.. At the same time.. At the NOW.. However the third person witness would assume that I stole your phone from you and walked backwards. But to you and I, we both know that it was me from the future who gave you that phone you now own.
Don’t worry my dear.. You can G-Pay me for the phone… Even in the present..
Now back to the story.. Once the protagonist saves the girl, they are ambushed by Sator’s men and they take the protagonist and Katherine into a turnstile room, each in a compartment, separated by the glass. Sator comes through the turnstile asks where the protagonist left the plutonium-241 threatening to kill Katherine. This scene is yet another wonder because in one compartment, everything happens in a forward sequence and in the other everything happens in a reverse sequence. Including the speech. But Sator “unfires” her in the hip demanding the protagonist to reveal where the plutonium-241 was by threatening to do it with her head. I mean the “unfiring”. Stop being such a pervert, will you?
He says it’s in the car he drove. Just then another Sator arrives in the compartment where the Protagonist is held. Moments before a squad of armed soldiers raid the building, both the Sators enter the turnstile and vanish. Neil too joins them and introduces the leader of the soldier, Ives as one of them to the Protagonist. Out of frustration the protagonist screams at Neil exclaiming that Sator had always known every move of his and questions how he does that. Ives answers him saying that they create a pincer movement in time and half of his team moves through the event watching it and then attacking in reverse chronological sequence.
Exactly, like how Sator attacked in a reversed car. Wow..! You are smart..
The protagonist reveals that he lied about the plutonium to Sator and decides to go back through time to save Katherine whose damage caused by the radiation on inversion was declared lethal. They decide to take her back through time upon the insistence of the protagonist. Since it is now that they captured that turnstile and if they go back to the past, the turnstile would be under Sator’s control. And so, they Protagonist advises Ives to take over another turnstile which they found a week ago in the Oslo Freeport and progresses through the turnstile. After being warned by the potential consequences and cautions such as ending up handing over the package to Sator, inversion of heat which is your feel cold out of fire, etc., the protagonists still continues to take his chances in saving Katherine. He’s given a mask to breath inverted air since breathing inverted air would kill him. Yet he proceeds through the turnstile, takes a car that’s taken down..
Yeah.. The same mysterious car that was inverted during the car chase.. You my friend, are a genius..
He drives through and end up getting frozen out of an explosion caused by another Sator wearing a similar mask, telling him that he has come to know that the protagonist has lied about the plutonium-241. Thus Sator gets the package. And the protagonist wakes up and gets to know that he was rescued by Ives and team. Follows an amazing discussion between Neil and the Protagonist where he questions Neil about paradoxes (the grandfather paradox for example) and Neil explains a little avoiding the answer to the protagonist when he is asked if they had known each other before it all began.. That discussion is sure to tingle our minds..
If one in inverted and the world remains normal, then breathing air in would mean that air is being sucked out, thereby, leading to death.. Since it is only the person that is inverted in the whole scene, i.e., the entropy of the person is inverted, every process would behave in an inverted manner to him/her.. Fire would freeze him instead of heating him up since the “flow” of heat would be reversed.. Air would suffocate him instead of letting him breath since the “flow” of air is also reversed.. And him moving forward would invert the world around him. Because HE is inverted and so, everything normal would appear inverted to him. It is the perception of an individual that is reversed.. Or the direction of the “flow” is inverted.. Like how the entire world seems to go back when you travel through a train.. The world stays still but you going forward would make them appear to go backwards.. Likewise, you going backwards would make the world appear to move forwards.. And the grandfather paradox.. When you go back in time and kill your grandfather, would you have been there firstly to do the act..? Am I Confusing..? Okay.. You are the effect of your father and your father, the effect of your grandfather.. But if you go back in time and kill your grandfather at an early age, your father wouldn’t be there right.? If your father never existed, how would you be born to him? That would mean you wouldn’t have been born in the first place right? If you were never born, how would you go back in time to kill your grandfather? That’s the paradox…
If you believe a singular experience of the consciousness, yes you might say that you would never have been born to commit the act. But if you take into account the existence and/or experience of multiple realities of a consciousness or parallel dimensions/timelines, you never know what would happen. May be the reality of you being raised by your family would split into two by your choice of killing your grandfather; or may be another “YOU” would stop you from killing your grandfather knowing the consequences in future; or may be anything else…. Ultimately, it’s all about the perceptions of the mind that define time and it’s flow, thereby raising a question of actual existence of time itself.. Is it that times frames have been existent containing events and consequences and that our consciousness is moving in the order that we have been programmed to move in..?? Or that various possibilities of the occurrences of events have been set already and that our beliefs and choices glide us through those time frames..?? Okay.. we have gone out of syllabus.. We’ll talk about it another day.. Now relax and let’s continue.. ️
The protagonist and Neil take Katherine to Oslo Freeport in a truck and use the breach to get through the turnstile in order to save her since they Protagonist wants to save her from Sator who said that he would kill her in the past, meaning, there might be a possibility of Katherine to be inexistent right then. The Protagonist’s arm is found to be injured and bleeding here. As they progress through, the whole world seems to be inverted which means that the three are inverted. Again comes the action scene that happened first where the protagonist encountered an inverted soldier and Neil, an ordinary one, during the first half of the film. But this time we get to witness the action scenes from THIS protagonist, the one from the future who is the inverted soldier back in the past. It is in this fight that his arm is injured by his past self and thus the consequent bleeding a few moments ago. On seeing himself in a reverse chronological sequence on the other side of the glass where Neil is, he runs into the turnstile and ends of facing the world in tune with his flow of time. Neil chases him, unmasks him and lets him go. (In the first half Neil after a few moments shock runs back to the Protagonist to stop him from killing the inverted soldier by raising a question of them being compromised). Thus the inverted one and the normal one are one and the same person as explained by Priya Singh.. Shortly Neil takes Katherine through the turnstile and the three take a van and escape the scene. Now the whole world seems to be in tune with their flow of time..
How could the world be in tune with them even after then getting through the turnstile..? Isn’t that your question..? Now listen my dear… You place a coin on the table heads up.. Now you flip the coin and it’s heads down.. Again you flip it.. What happens..? Heads up again right..? Exactly.. Already the three had come through the turnstile in order to save her.. So they’re inverted.. Now again they enter the turnstile which makes them inverted again to normal chronological sequence.. Finding it complicated…?
Well, multiply minus with another minus to get a plus.. Now it should be easy.. Isn’t it..?
When the protagonist asked Neil why he hasn’t revealed that he has seen him back in the Freeport (the masked soldier chased by Neil), Neil says his knowledge could’ve influenced his choice and thus the consequences. Hence he kept his secret knowing that any disclosure could potentially lead to a whole new timeline.. The Protagonist meets Priya to ask her to warn him about the plutonium-241 so that he doesn’t let it fall into Sator’s hands and that Katherine would be safe. It is through Priya we get to know the big picture. It is revealed that in the future, generations from now, a scientist would invent a method to invert the world.. The turnstile.. And the scientists killed herself since she wouldn’t be forced to do it again.. When the Manhattan project was completed, Robert Oppenheimer was concerned that the nuclear weapon could create a chain reaction engulfing the world although he let it unstopped.. Likewise, that scientist in the future developed a method to invert the world and feared that by destroying the world in the past, they would only destroy themselves in the future.. (Possibility of your inexistence when you kill your grandfather in the past).. She believed in that possibility and so, split the weapon into 9 parts and has it hidden in the most secured nuclear containment facilities here in the past.. But Sator was being funded by the future to find and assemble the 9 parts of the algorithm to end the world now.. And with the plutonium-241 he has all the nine.. Priya tells him that he is a Protagonist and not “THE” Protagonist and rejects his request to act differently this time making him understand that she had used him to get the remaining eight parts through Sator.. However, the protagonist chooses not to reveal where Sator was assembling the authority and makes her promise the safety of Katherine and her son. When Priya asks him why he was involving Katherine again, he says that it is only through her he could get to Sator.. When questioned about Sator’s trust on her, the protagonist tells her that Sator “THINKS” that Katherine is dead; but he”USED TO” trust her thereby making it clear to Priya and the audience that he has understood the real game.. The protagonist gets the word from Priya of Katherine and her son’s safety and is advised to get to a really point where Ives has a team ready to invert themselves. When the surprised Protagonist questions about Priya possessing the same technology that they were trying to suppress, Priya says that she has a turnstile because some people from the future want the algorithm to travel through the past and to fight the very same technology using it.. She also reveals that Tenet was not founded in the past; but it will be founded in the future..
This whole conversation might be s little confusing to some of us. Lemme try and explain hoping that I’ve understood it right.. At least I would like to think so..
Sator in the future, before these three get back to the past thinks that Katherine is dead. But as of this part of the movie, the three have traveled back in time and so, Sator in this time frame trusts her. Hence the protagonist who is actually his future self tells Priya that Sator THINKS that she’s dead (Sator in future from now) and that Sator USED TO trust her (Sator in the current timeline, which is actually the past for the protagonist). So according to the Protagonist’s point of view he has come back in time to alter things, but according to Sator in this time frame, he’s right here right now, unaware of any of it, forcing love into Katherine.. Thus he will trust Katherine in this phase of time.. The most important revelation is that Tenet was not founded in the past; but it will be founded in the future.. You heard that right.. All of what has been happening so far… The war, Sator’s plan to destroy everything, the protagonist and the secret society called Tenet.. Everything has come from the future.. Tenet that was founded (in the future from now) has traveled back in time to stop Sator, who was provided with the technology (founded in the future) by the future to annihilate everything.. Hence the protagonist too is guided by the future..
The protagonist proceeds as per the plan and plots a plan with Neil and Katherine. The protagonist and Neil reveal that Sator was planning to destroy everything and that the bomb was in rhythm with his heartbeat.. So when Sator dies, everything along with him ends.. When Katherine reveals that Sator had a pancreatic cancer and his word of sadism saying when he can’t have her, nobody else can, they identify that Sator would kill himself and everything when he chooses to.. It is deduced by the three that the right time when Sator would end it all is during the vacation in Vietnam ten days ago which Katherine had mentioned earlier in the film.. Katherine is advised to buy them some time by delaying Sator’s death do that the rest of them would deactivated the biometric signals and save the world.. The protagonist gives her a cellphone using which she could she could send voice messages to the future.. Or posterity as mentioned by the protagonist.. The two get to the rally point while Katherine is driven to the yacht by Mahir where she gets onto it once Katherine and her son in the past time frame leave to the shore.. She plays it along, pretending to be truly loving to Sator.. Meanwhile, Ives assembles the soldiers and instructs them the objectives of the operation.. They were to create a pincer movement where the soldiers were divided into two teams, red and blue, and red team would move forward in time starting from the choppers operating towards the facility where the bomb is stored whereas the blue team would be inverted and would operate towards the choppers starting from their landing point on a rock just above the nuke.. The whole operation is to be executed within ten minutes, all given watches with a countdown.. Ives advices that the mission for the red team is to fail defusing the bomb and the third team called the splinter team would defuse the bomb.. He rejects to reveal the members of the splinter team.. When the protagonist tells him that he wanted to be in the first wave, Ives reveals that both the teams would operate simultaneously and that himself and the Protagonist were the splinter team.. The most intriguing thing in this whole operation is that the blue team had a similar meeting headed by Wheeler an hour from now in future and that the war room planning which Ives was explaining is based on the experience of the blue team.. Remember that the blue team is inverted.. Follows an extraordinary sequence of attack with guns and bombs with one team inverted to the other..
Since we heard from Ives that team red is forwards and team blue is backwards, it may be confusing when we find team blue moving forwards and team red, backwards in some scenes.. This is because the inversion is as per the perception of one another.. The red team is moving forwards in time and so the blue team appear inverted to them.. Whereas, the blue team that is inverted is moving backwards in time from the future, ten minutes from the present.. Since both the teams operate in opposite directions, they appear inverted to one another.. When the scenes are portrayed from the red team’s point of view, the blue soldiers move in a reverse sequence.. Similarly when the scenes are portrayed from the blue team’s point of view, the red soldiers move in a reverse sequence.. It’s the difference in perception of the direction in which time flows.. We get lost when both the point of views are switched now and then rapidly.. But don’t worry.. That’s okay.. We’ll get the hang of it..
As planned, the operation goes on where the Protagonist and Ives get into the facility running past a honking heavy vehicle while the exit is blocked by an explosion.. Neil who’s a part of the blue team, the inverted one, finds one of the Sator’s men enter into the facility and decides to go own his own off the actual plan.. He steps into the turnstile there and re-inverts himself, takes a vehicle and chases the splinter unit and honks to warn them.. However the two race through without noticing it.. Neil then takes a reroute and gets to the top of the rock right above the bomb.. Inside the facility, the cell that contains the bomb is locked and is defended by Sator’s man.. There’s a dead soldier lying inside having the same red string in his backpack (the same guy in the first scene who saved the protagonist by “unfiring” a bullet). Ives is shot and the protagonist gets to talk with Sator over a phone call.. Sator and the protagonist argue over Sator’s masterplan.. It is through Sator’s words we know that he is drunk with the feeling of power, sadism, unhappiness, solitude and vengeance.. He claims to feel like God when he can take his world along with him.. Sadistic megalomaniac sort of guy..
Sator is basically a depiction of Satan.. The Satan in each and every one of us.. He might possess a hell lot of powers and absolute abundance in both materialistic and spiritual aspects.. May be he’s as powerful as God himself.. Yet, unlike God, he isn’t loved.. He’s feared and casted away.. Hence he traps some men and women by tricking them into a deal.. Thereby possessing them forever.. Exactly what Sator does to Katherine.. Someone having everything but love ends up with a destructive mindset when he/she is subjected to long-term solitude while longing for love right..? Fear and despair seeps into the heart and he/she starts controlling the ones they love.. I know I know… We see Sators in our lives… And sometimes, in ourselves.. Can’t help it….! We live in reality my dear.. Characterization of the self is permuted with infinite possibilities.. And it is upto us to make the right choices.. Choices design our lives.. Remember.. We do not have a time machine or a turnstile to “un-choose”.. So make the choice that you’ll never regret, no matter how hard it is..
Alongside Katherine gets Sator engaged by faking a little romance and offering him a massage right after the phone call.. Sator is quite convinced.. Or he doesn’t want to doubt it.. After all love has been THE one thing Sator has never earned.. So may be when he gets it now, he doesn’t even want to doubt it’s legitimacy.. Since he didn’t get it, he tried to take it by force.. After all Katherine’s love is that one thing Sator had always longed for..
Just like how you long for that specific person to love you… Nobody’s truly happy without love right..?? ️ That definitely doesn’t mean you can go rogue my friend.. Behave yourself.. Love isn’t about possession; it’s about compassion..
In the cell, when then goon attacks Ives and tries to shoot the protagonist in the head, the dead man gets up and takes the bullet in his own, picks the cell’s lock and gets out of the facility.. (He had actually entered the facility, picked the lock, saved the protagonist by getting himself killed).. Remember that he’s inverted so his sequence goes in a reverse order.. The Protagonist fights Sator’s man who tries to detonate the bomb and manages to kill the big guy.. He secures the package with moments remaining for the big bang.. However Katherine jumps the right moment trusting the Protagonist and shoots Sator down letting him know that she wouldn’t let him die thinking that he had won.. He ties him up and jumps off the yatch just when Katherine and her son of that time frame return to the yatch from the shore.. Remember Katherine telling the protagonist that she saw some woman diving into the sea the other day?? Its none other than herself.. Her future self back in the past..
Just when the bomb is about to blow up, the protagonist and Ives, along with the algorithm, are dragged out the facility from above and are dragged to safety by the heavy vehicle driven by Neil, narrowly escaping a detonation to trigger the big bang.. Ives points his gun at the Protagonist first since it was the operational procedure to erase the knowledge of the algorithm’s location.. But then, he lets it go, splits the algorithm into three, each part in each of their custodies and warns them that he’ll kill them if at all he finds them.. For the safety of all time of course.. Neil then hands over the protagonist, his share of the algorithm and joins Ives.. When the protagonist notices the red string in his backpack, he connects the dots and questions Neil.. Neil tells him that he has to get back to the operation in order to pick the lock and save the protagonist.. With teary eyes and a heavy heart the protagonist asks him who recruited Neil.. Neil chuckles and says that the protagonist himself recruited him.. Or will recruit him in the future.. And that to him, the mission was the end of a long term friendship whereas to the Protagonist, this mission is the beginning of the friendship that is come in the future from now.. The Protagonist questions the possibility of a different effect if they went back in time again and did things differently.. But Neil declines and proceeds to the battlefield with a few words of wisdom.. What has happened is happened..
Imagine you got a person who has always been there for you.. Taking care of you… Protecting you… Guiding you… Lending you his/her shoulder just to make you feel better… Giving you all that you need… Wanting you to be happy all the time… Without expecting anything in return from you.. Ready to give his/her life up just for you.. It could be anyone bonding with you in any kind of relationship.. And to know that you put them there in the first place for that kind of sacrifice.. Painful right?
If there’s someone on your mind right now while you’re reading the above, I’m telling you straight on your face.. Don’t ever miss that person in your life no matter what..
After the whole thing is settled, one fine day, we find Katherine at the school with her son and Priya sitting inside a car tries to kill Katherine. Just then the Protagonist gets into the car to stop her.. When he is questioned on how he knew where she was, he reveals that it was through Katherine’s message to posterity through the phone he had given her.. Priya claims that it’s her job to cut the loose ends.. However the protagonist tells her that it’s his job and that he has realized that he has been THE Protagonist all the time and that all of them were working for himself.. Hence Priya is killed and he witness Katherine walking with her son.. End of story….!
There are a lot of messages in the film actually.. Just like Sator being the depiction of Satan in each of us, the Protagonist too is a depiction of each of us.. Just like Sator, we grab everything we can, yet, we never feel content.. We continue to long for something or someone we may never have.. And just like the protagonist, we make some really bad choices in life not knowing the consequences of our choices.. Sometimes, we wish we could undo something we’ve done in the past.. Sometimes we imagine the possible future just out of fear and despair.. And sometimes we reason it out convincing ourselves and/or others by believing in “What would have happened”.. We blame, mostly someone else.. We question, mostly what the unknowable possible future could be.. We complain, mostly the choices we ourselves made in the past.. And we believe, mostly that we’ll choose better this time.. Only to blame ourselves again sometime in the future from now..
Once we the protagonists of our lives realize that we are THE protagonists.. Once we realize the immense power that lies in each and every choice we make.. Once we realize that each choice possesses such great power to create a while new timeline for itself.. Once we realize that every choice affects our past, present and the future.. It is then we take charge of our lives.. It is then we think from enough to make the right choice.. It is then we make ourselves responsible for what we were, what we are and what we would be.. It is then we understand that the past, present and the future are all interconnected, all becoming one at this passing moment which we refer to as NOW… Yes it’s already happened, it’s happening and it will happen.. All at once.. That depends on your perception of time frame.. On your perception of yourself.. And most importantly, your answer to the question.. Have you realized that you are “THE PROTAGONIST” of your life…???