Normally, mystery is just the thing that Tenet filmmaker Christopher Nolan craves. So beloved is the director, helmer of such films as The Dark Knight and Interstellar, that his steady, directorial hand alone is enough to open a movie. If you doubt this, look at a film like Dunkirk. Most filmmakers would've followed the nearly billion dollar success of Interstellar with yet another trip into fantasyland. After all, Nolan can write his own ticket and I'm sure that there's many a studio that would welcome him taking over one of the gazillion superhero movies in the works. Instead, Nolan made Dunkirk. A film with a mostly unrecognizable cast (save for Tom Hardy) about an event that a lot of people weren't that familiar with. Dunkirk grossed over half a billion dollars.

Tenet, again shrouded in mystery, seemed on a trajectory to once again show that Nolan is a one of the top 3 greatest directors in the world. Then this stupid virus cratered just about everything and, suddenly, this sure thing's fate was thrown into question. The reality is that Tenet needs to come out in movie theaters. It cost over $200 million to make and the studio, Warner Bros., needs its theatrical release to make some of that money back. Tenet looked like it was on track to be released in July. Then that date was shifted to August and now it's set to roll out in the US on September 3. Internationally it will is going to be released sooner. This is a lot of hullabaloo for a movie that nobody really knows what it's about. International espionage? Time shifting? Life and death? Only the creators of this film know and that, amongst other things, is leading people to get tired of waiting. There's a lot of content available. If Tenet doesn't somehow salvage the summer months it could be forgotten.

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Fear not, however, because if you're as tired of waiting for Tenet as we are, we've got an assortment of films from Netflix that will make waning interest in its release a little less tenuous. Now, none of the movies on this list can really compete with the bigness and cinematic scope of Tenet, they can certainly prove to be a pleasant diversion as we hope its current release plan comes to fruition.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer on Netflix

A film about class war, set on a train, starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton may not seem like it in any way ties to a movie like Tenet. Snowpiercer, like most of the films created by Bong Joon Ho (and Christopher Nolan), are predicated on big ideas. It is the largeness of these ideas that tie Snowpiercer and Tenet together. Also, both directors are iconoclasts who bring a certain style to their directorial vision. This film sees people separated by class based on the cars they ride in a train. Of course the lower class citizens are in the back and the upper crust are in the front. However, there really isn't much separating them, and that quickly becomes one of the many societal metaphors in this brilliantly conceived sci-fi, action, drama.

Intuition

Intuition on Netflix

Tapping into the psychological aspects that seem inherent in {Tenet), as well as the character motivations that give certain players more nuance, Intuition is a two hour head game. Pipa (Luisana Lopilato) is a new police detective who is looked after by veteran officer Francisco (Joaquin Furriel). They are trying to figure out who murdered a young girl. However, their case is clouded by the fact that Francisco might be a murderer too. The film has a classic "did they or did they not do it" set up, while also being surely helmed by Alejandro Montiel. With its strong visual style and ability to take us into the day to day of police procedure, this Netflix original will have you guessing until the end.

Code 8

Code 8 on Netflix

Code 8 might be best described as an anti-superhero film. This tale of a poor man deciding to use his powers to help his ailing mom is a true look at wrong vs. right. It also looks at a good guy working with some not so good guys to do the right thing. As an action, crime, drama it is very much a distant cousin of the much anticipated Tenet. While the plot of Code 8 is obviously more straight forward, it is still a big looking film filled with large set pieces and big ideas. Also, our main character Conner (Robbie Amell) makes a faustian bargain that he's ultimately going to be held accountable for.

OtherLife

OtherLife on Netflix

With what appears to be Tenets idea of shifting time landscapes, OtherLife seeks to examine that through the lens of moral implications. Ren (Jessica De Gouw) creates a syrum that allows people to move through time within the realm of virtual reality. Problems arise when Ren wonders what is the best application of such a drug? While the film doesn't get too wrapped up in the will she or won't she dilemma, it ultimately makes a decision that causes some major issues for everyone around her. These sci-fi films seem to be Netflix's bread and butter. They also help ease the wait for Tenet to eventually arrive in theaters. We hope!

Only

Only on Netflix

This tragically timely film from director Takashi Doscher (Still) presents us with a couple under quarantine after a novel illness starts killing women all over the world. Eva (Frieda Pinto) and Will (Leslie Odom, Jr.) do everything they can to keep their home clean and stay safe, but the problem is that the outside world soon encroaches upon them as women are now targeted. Left with few options, Eva and Will must leave their "safe space" in an effort to truly survive. Again, another film that has some obvious and not so obvious connections to what we think is the subject matter of Tenet. The reality is that no film is going to fully satisfy our desire to see Tenet, and a big reason why is because it is so shrouded in mystery. That said, Only is very well done. With its measured pace and sci-fi elements, it stands as a satisfying experience all its own.

Extinction

Extinction on Netflix

In this this sci-fi, serious turn from Michael Pena (Jexi), we see him as Peter, a man who will do everything he can to protect is family. Plagued by reoccurring dreams that aliens are after them, Peter sees his nightmare turn into reality when the planet is invaded. Now he has to face his gravest fear if they are going to have any chance at survival. This Netflix original has a solid mix of action, drama and thrills thrown in to make it dangerously relevant in these Covid times. While the subject matter in Tenet seems wholly different in style and tone, we do know that Tenet seems to be about one man trying to keep a lot of people safe. With that as the basic construct, Extinction should more than satisfy your need for that.

Lost Bullet

Lost Bullet on Netflix

With a mix of 1970s cool on its one sheet, Guillaume Pierret's Lost Bullet is a truly a Netflix original. It follows a mechanic who is set to do some serious time for a murder he didn't commit. The problem? The only thing that can exonerate them is a car that contains the bullet that was part of the crime. This film is unique, frenetic, and an action, crime, thriller of the highest caliber. How will it satisfy your need to see Tenet sooner rather than later? Well, the fact that it is set in the crime world certainly qualifies it as a distant cousin to that film. Lost Bullet is so unique it might actually force you down some film rabbit holes to further satisfy your Tenet itch.

Goldeneye

Goldeneye on Netflix

Craving the big action set-pieces that Tenet is promising? Look no further than the seminal James Bond film Goldeneye. With Bond on the hunt for a top secret space defense system known as Goldeneye, you can only imagine the ends of the earth he is going to go to save the world. While our knowledge of Tenet is quite limited (a pretty impressive feat in the internet age - and considering so many people are home to dig up more information about it), we're fairly certain there's some Top Secret things afoot in that film. The stakes appear very high and while they might not be at the Goldeneye level, Tenet director Christopher Nolan might've raised the stakes even more!

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas on Netflix

Are you jonesing for Christopher Nolan's Tenet because you want a complex plot with big ideas? Well, look no further than Tom Tykwer, and Lilly and Lana Wachowski's Cloud Atlas. Currently, regarding Tenet, we really don't know with 100% certainty what the film is about. With Cloud Atlas, many people that have seen it feel the same way... only that film has been out for 8 years! This nearly three hour tale ties six stories together (and also stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) to show humanities connection through time. It is a movie filled with metaphors, grand set pieces, and moment to moment time-shifting events. Again, if you want the big movie going experience at home... Cloud Atlas will take you there.

In the Shadow of the Moon

In the Shadow of the Moon on Netflix

While the subject matter of Tenet and In the Shadow of the Moon couldn't be more different, serial killers vs. whatever Tenet is actually about, both films appear destined to play with our sensibilities to try and figure movies out. In the Shadow of the Moon follows detective Locke (Boyd Holbrook) who quite literally loses his mind as he goes after a serial killer who commits very heinous deeds against others. Moving down labyrinths of evidence as our protagonist gets closer and closer, we eventually have to wonder if Locke will ever get the justice he so desperately seeks. No matter what happens he is permanently damaged, and that idea seems to be embedded in Tenet. That film actually gives us a character called The Protagonist and it seems they aren't coming out the other end of their journey unscathed either.

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs