Probably no movie—except maybe the eternally delayed James Bond flick No Time To Die—has come to represent the difficulties of releasing films in COVID World better than Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Thanks to delays, arguments about digital distribution, worries about pandemic exposure, and the implication that the fate of the entire theater industry was resting on its back, Nolan’s perfectly serviceable action flick has taken on layers far beyond what its admittedly delightful explosions and intentionally convoluted plot could ever probably support. In fact, it’s picked up so much symbolic weight that people started doing intentional art projects just to spite Nolan, including the hilariously mean-spirited act of squashing the entire film down to the point it could fit in five tiny Game Boy Advance cartridges.
And now, at last, it’s come to this: Tenet is coming to HBO Max, once dubbed “the worst streaming service” by the film’s director, who was royally pissed off about Warner Media’s (now firmly executed) plans to release movies on the service simultaneous with their theatrical releases. That’s not the case for Tenet, obviously—Nolan managed to secure its long-demanded theatrical run last year, and the film’s been available VOD for months now—but the thought of the movie now resting atop a structure that he’s spent the last several months blasting is the sort of rich irony it’s hard to say no to. Also, there’s the more basic fact that, if you’d yet to see Tenet (on account of the deadly global pandemic) this’ll probably be a pretty good way to finally see it.*
*This viewpoint is not supported or endorsed by Tenet director Christopher Nolan.