A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
You are the main character of your own story, and you're capable of more than you know. Themes of teamwork, integrity, courage, curiosity, and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
The Protagonist acts with empathy. Neil uses his skills and teamwork to solve problems. Kat shows courage, prioritizing the common good over loyalty to her husband.
Most characters are White men, but the lead is played by John David Washington, who's Black. He demonstrates courage and integrity and doesn't fall into any stereotypes. Women have less to do: The lead female character is abused by her husband, and though she gets some agency near the end of the film, others, like supporting character Priya, have no impact on the plot.
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Violence & Scariness
Lots of action and violence; little blood. Guns and shooting, battle scenes, beatings, domestic abuse and threats, car chases, crashes, and fires. The threat of torture is explained in graphic terms. A character dies by suicide. Characters are arms dealers, and nuclear weapons are a part of the story.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A female character wears a bikini. Mild flirtation.
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Infrequent strong language includes "bitch," "s--t," and one use of "f--king." Characters also say "damn," "hell," "goddamn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking (wine). In a meeting, the drink is vodka. A character takes a dangerous pill.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tenet is a spy action movie directed by Christopher Nolan. John David Washington stars as an international secret agent who must save the world from World War III. There's a lot of action and fighting throughout the film. It's mostly bloodless, but there are guns, shootings, explosions, crashes, and beatings. Domestic abuse and child custody are big parts of the storyline. The main message is about being the hero of your own story, and characters demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, courage, curiosity, integrity, and empathy. The Protagonist (Washington) acts with empathy, Neil (Robert Pattinson) uses his skills and teamwork to solve problems, and Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) shows courage in the face of an abusive husband. Strong language is infrequent, so when it comes, it's noticeable: Expect to hear "f--king bitch," "s--t," "damn," "hell" etc. Characters drink socially (wine, vodka), and a character dies by suicide. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Cinematic master of time manipulation Christopher Nolan has created the Rubik's Cube of time travel movies. Many time travel fans love to study and analyze the genre's fictional rules, and Tenet might become a template to compare others against. Nolan dips into physics and quantum theory -- and he doesn't spend time explaining anything clearly. And although the production values are excellent overall, with great world building and viscerally exciting special effects and design, it doesn't help that audio involving key details is muffled by gas masks, spoken through walkie-talkies, etc.
While much of the movie is a whirlwind of "what?," the ending suggests that much of the complexity isn't as relevant to the overall point. You can enjoy it at the level of your choosing: If you want to crunch around in the minutiae, there's ample material, but if you want to jump to the takeaway, then it plays much more like a James Bond movie with a lot of complicated dialogue. It definitely sets up the possibility of a sequel, and it seems like the amount of details dumped on audience members are meant to entice viewers to rewatch it again and again.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.