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Writer-director Christopher Nolan has given us such straightforward crowd-pleasing fluff as Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), The Prestige (2006) and Inception (2010). Well, no more Mr. easy-to-understand nice guy. For his latest venture into the space-time continuum he throws in aspects of all these mind-benders, plus a few more reveals right down to the last scene, just to make sure you leave the theater cross-eyed. 

A CIA agent referred to only as “the Protagonist” (John David WashingtonBlacKkKlansman) is recruited by a super-secret organization to foil the plot of a dying, “omnicidal” Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) to bring about (through time-travel technology invented in the future) not only the erasure of all life on Earth but everything that ever existed as well. Now, that’s an ambitious super-villain.

I’d lay it all out for you — the time inversion, backward-firing bullets, a rousing battle scene in which some forces are moving forward in time and others backward, “temporal junctions,” and more – but that would involve spoilers, and anyway I’d have to understand it myself. And to do that, as is common with Nolan’s movies, I’ll need another viewing (or two). 

This is a dense, brainy, brilliantly convoluted, multi-layered and action-packed puzzle of a movie; the kind that rewards those who pay attention. Elizabeth Debicki is more than a mere damsel in distress as the oligarch’s abused wife, and Robert Pattinson proves there’s life after Twilight. See you at the theater; or maybe I already have. (150 min)