I think this is the end of a beautiful friendship. Those are the (near) final words of the ever wry Neil in Tenet. Riffing on the last line of dialogue from another Warner Bros. film, Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca, it’s a wink and a nudge from Christopher Nolan toward classic Hollywood cinema. But it’s also an admission by the Robert Pattinson character that he is at least vaguely aware that he’s headed toward his death, and though he is about to die, his relationship with the Protagonist (John David Washington) has only just begun.
On first viewing it’s a bit of a bewildering revelation. In fact, many watched the whole film without realizing the Robert Pattinson character had already died onscreen before he saved the Protagonist and Ives (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), plus the Algorithm, from certain death in the bowels of subterranean Siberia.