3 THE ENIGMA OF NEIL
John Nugent: When we first meet Robert Pattinson’s Neil, he appears to be just another suave spook — an “assist” in Mumbai for The Protagonist. But the more we learn about Neil, the more mysterious he becomes. As well as being a master lockpicker (with a Masters in physics), it turns out he was working for the Tenet organisation all along, calling in Ives (Aaron Taylor-johnson) and “the cavalry” when things go timey-topsy-turvy. Neil’s true mission is only fully understood in the film’s closing moments, when he reveals that it is The Protagonist himself who recruited him, many years in the past. (That could be how Neil knows that The Protagonist doesn’t drink on the job.) That orange tag on his backpack also exposes Neil as the inverted mystery man who saved The Protagonist’s life in that opening sequence at the Opera House, as well as the soldier who ultimately sacrifices himself in the cave.