Inception

Christopher Nolan has once again proved he is a very, very talented director.  There’s absolutely no denying it after such hits as Batman Begins, Memento, The Dark Night, and now Inception in a short, thirteen year career.  Inception is another installation in his efforts to make the ordinary, extraordinary.

A year ago, Nolan mezmerized the world with the action-filled The Dark Knight, And his ability to masquerade an extremely good action hero film as a modern masterpiece.  This is what Nolan does.  It’s his talent and livlihood.  He makes the action genre seem new again.  There’s nothing genuinely new in Inception.  The marvel of the film, is that he makes it seem like there’s something there that we’ve never seen before, when we actually have.

The story, which is also penned by Nolan, follows a remarkable man named Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the same, emotionally haunted character he played in Shutter Island.  Cobb is one of the leading players in a new field of sub-conscious corporate espionage.  He explores the dreams of high-powered people, in order to steal their ideas, and secrets in the world of their dreams, when the subconscious is at its most susceptible.  This business, as you can imagine, is both dangerous and lucrative.

Cobb is married to Mal, represented by Marion Cotillard.  I say represented, because Mal isn’t actually a character in the film, but rather a representation of Cobb’s psyche.  Is this getting confusing?  Be prepared, the film is as well.  I won’t reveal too many plot points, because doing so would ruin the magic that Nolan has created here.  I will say, that due to criminal charges, Cobb is not allowed to return to the US, and congruently, his children, who live there.  Cobb is presented with an opportunity, the chance to not only steal an idea from someone, but plant one in someone’s head without this person knowing.  Cobb is, unfortunately, an undeveloped character.  I say undeveloped because he is someone I would personally love to know more about.

Cobb assembles a solid team.  There’s Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt), Cobb’s best friend.  There’s Ariadne (Ellen Page), the new-comer “architect” of these dream worlds.  She’s new, but extremely gifted.  There’s Eames (Tom Hardy of RocknRolla fame), and Saito (Ken Watanabe), the rich gentlemen and CEO hiring Cobb to insert this idea into the new CEO of his rival company.

We mustn’t forget Cillian Murphy who plays Fischer Jr., this new young CEO.

There’s much ambiguity in the rules of the worlds Nolan creates.  He allows for a science which creates the techonlogy of “group dreams.”  Basically, an acid trip where all those tripping (and connected to the same machine) are allowed to experience together.  This all occurs in the dream state.  A dream state which is curiously mundane.  My dreams do little to imitate rational life.  But in Nolan’s world, somehow, this does not need explanation.

To explain the plot in plain terms would be to say that the Cobb’s team members have to synchronize events in a dream, within a dream, within a dream, within a subconscious.  And in each of these states, there is a different speed of time.  Again, this is confusing, I reiterate that there is much that I missed in my first viewing of Inception. The mischief this team gets into leads them from the downtown streets of a metropolis, to the confines of a extremely chic hotel, to snowy mountain tops, to a crumbling and abandoned city.

There are explosions, drama, a score that instructs the viewer on how to feel.  All of this is nothing new.  But again, I say, this is where Nolan is most talented, but falls short of a master of film.  He takes what we’ve seen a million times before, puzzles, mystery, characters that aren’t fully developed, and makes it all seem intriguing, and takes a two hour and twenty two minute run times, and makes it feel like all I want is more.

The technical achievements of Inception deserve the most praise.  There is a particularly stunning fight seen in a hotel between all sorts of “projections” and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, in which the pull of gravity is shifting constantly making their world spin over and over.  The effects here are breathtaking, and in today’s screening, I was truly reminded of the importance of summer blockbusters.

There’s nothing visionary about Inception, but that doesn’t mean it was deftly directed, with brilliant performances, and a mindbending plot that will leave you completely in awe of this director.

★★★★

Comments
14 Responses to “Inception”
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Freakin amazing!! I loved almost every single second of this!! Nolan is going to be considered as one of the best directors of all-time now, and I will stand by and say, yes, I have to also agree. Check out my review here: http://dtmmr.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/inception-2010/

  2. Castor says:

    Certainly a very good summer blockbuster but nothing more. This is a movie to be admired like a painting, rather than felt like a beautiful song.
    Castor´s last blog post ..Greatest Comedy Tournament- Round 3 Day 1

  3. Usually I agree with Castor, but in this instance we differ — I do not think that “Inception” is “unfeeling” as a film. You have to dig for the feeling with the characters, with the exception of Dom and Mal, both portrayed by the phenomenal duo of Cotillard and DiCaprio. Not enough people are praising Watanabe’s intensity and curious sadness, either.
    M. Carter @ the Movies´s last blog post ..Review- “The Descent” 2005

  4. Branden says:

    I don’t why people have problems with the movie and give this movie high marks. I guess the confusing nature of the movie or the underdevelopment of Cobb didn’t knock it down a half a star.

  5. Peter E. says:

    wow, you flipped over this much more than me. Don’t understand how you saw how the acting was so good here when none of them were given much to do at all. A good film and a very solid first half, but it goes so painstakingly slow in the 2nd half for me. Also, so many gaps in the story and flaws overall that I don’t see what all the hype is about. You can check out my contrarian review if you’d like. On another note, I like your site and just found it thru Aiden. Will be checking often!

  6. blake says:

    @CMrok93 – I loved every second as well. But I’m holding of the ‘one of the greatest directors ever’ title until I see more. I can’t quite put him up with Tarkovsky or Bergman just yet.

    @Castor – Well put. I think the movie new exactly what it wanted to be, and did just that, but no more.

    @M. Carter – I would side a little more with Castor only because while I was interested in what was happening to Dom and Mal, I didn’t really care what happened to them.

    @Branden – I suppose I took into account what this movie was trying to be. Which is a solid summer blockbuster. And it was one of the best summer blockbusters I’ve seen in a long time. No movie is perfect. But since this was definitely the cream of the crop, I gave it four stars.
    blake´s last blog post ..Inception

  7. Jen says:

    Great review! I agree with most of what you said. While the characters were a bit undeveloped and I thought it was confusing at times, I loved the fact that I was still thinking about the movie for days after. To me, that is what made it a fantastic movie!
    Jen´s last blog post ..Intuition

  8. Ben says:

    I agree with you about DiCaprio’s performance. He was a brooding, troubled character haunted by his complicated past wife. Also I thought the score was undeniably similar, especially as they transverse Cobb’s mind in the fourth level. But entertaining? Absolutely. Visually stunning? Without question.
    Ben´s last blog post ..The University of Utah

  9. Jessica says:

    I really liked this one. The scene from the picture you included was my favorite. I hope they come out with a director’s cut that explains so of the things they had to gloss over.

    Also, did anyone else miss Cillian Murphy? I did. So glad to see him again.
    Jessica´s last blog post ..10 Literary Concepts Every Reader Should Know

  10. I admired the ideas + visual effects. However, I feel there should be more surface message, I found none.

    Also, I felt the characters were too underdeveloped to make Inception a true masterpiece.

    I’ve just reviewed Inception myself.
    moviesandsongs365´s last blog post ..Movie of the week- Inception 2010

  11. Richard says:

    I agree that the direction of Chris Nolan was very good but in the end, after I got the idea of Inception–which is pretty cool!–I found the movie just “ok” and not great like everyone else seems to think.
    Richard´s last blog post ..DVD Movies New Releases

  12. Will says:

    I loved Inception also. Nolan is by far one of the best working directors. The effects really are breathtaking as you say, made all the more awesome because they were mostly achieved physically or with camera tricks. A true science fiction film.

  13. Poster says:

    Shallow and confusing, unintelligent and overloaded with unnecessary action, saturated by loud and annoying music.

    0.5/10

  14. Blake says:

    @ Poster – Fair enough. Although I will argue that it’s an action movie… requiring action to make it one. Otherwise, all action is unnecessary.

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