In the movie Tenet, when a group of terrorists invade an opera house, in a van, a guy says: "Wake up the Americans." Then the protagonist and his mate are woken up and given fake special force badges.

I am wondering why the protagonist and his mate are sleeping prior to an imminent deployment?

  • 8
    Sleeping while you can is a good thing. You never know when you might get another chance.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 23, 2020 at 7:27
  • The real question is whether they were actually sleeping. The script gives some clues to this. They were very very alert either way.
    – Möoz
    Aug 17, 2021 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


Paulie D’s comment maybe close to the truth. Although, Mark Henderson’s answer may be the “Hollywood” reason. The armed forces only move and fight with water, food, and rest. A lack of one of the above can be just as detrimental if not more so than a lack of ammunition. Any opportunity to eat, rest, and use the latrine facilities before an operation should be taken. You never know when the next opportunity will be. Letting your brain or your body run out of fuel when it is most needed can be detrimental.

Before airborne operations, more than half the unit would be either napping or eating portions of MREs. Soldiers waiting to don their gear would make sure they emptied their bladders and bowels. And, those that had already donned their gear would be sleeping either rocked back on their parachutes or back to back (chute to chute). Once in the aircraft, the majority of the jumpers would close their eyes and proceed to sleep. The ten minute warning was our wake up call.

To this day, if I am not the Pilot in Command, I fall asleep as soon as the engines start up. The drone is almost relaxing. On civilian AFF jumps, I sit as close to the pilot as possible so that he can tap me when we get to altitude.

If I am the Pilot in Command, I still make sure I hydrate, urinate, and have a light snack before I go out to the plane. And, I have a personal minimum number of hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours before flying.

  • Any tips from the parachuters on falling asleep on demand and in less-than-ideal circumstances (noise, lack of bed)? Could use those on many sleepless nights...
    – BatWannaBe
    Aug 24, 2020 at 15:45
  • 4
    @BatWannaBe - covering your eyes to block out light. A boonie hat or patrol cap works. It a non-issue in a military transport plane with its lack of windows. Either a total absence of noise or a constant steady drone of noise like an aircraft engine. It does not matter how loud. Even if the noise is sharp like gunfire. If it’s constant like behind the firing line of a rifle range, you can still sleep through it. And constant temperature. I can sleep while freezing or sweating. But, a change in temperature will wake me up.
    – Dean F.
    Aug 24, 2020 at 21:23

There are no references to this later in the movie (that I could pick up on anyway), so my assumption is that it's just to show how casual and calm the operatives are before the mission.

Showing your operatives asleep (or resting) moments before their mission starts shows that they are highly experienced (this is just another op) and highly professional (they know what they're doing, and they know they might not get a chance to rest again for a long time) and highly organized (they know what they need to do off by heart, they're not sitting there memorising a game plan). These operatives are the best of the best.

The same trope was used in Aliens - one of the operatives falls asleep in the drop ship on their way to a mission. Meant to show how badass they are.

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