Inception is the smartest movie to be released in theaters in so long. Lots of Hollywood insiders before the release were quoted as saying something like this, “Inception’s biggest problem is that it’s going to be too smart for most viewers.” While that may be true that doesn’t stop writer/director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Memento) from putting his dream project (no pun intended) out there.
So where do we being with this movie? It took Nolan approx ten years to write out, similar to what Tarantino did with Inglorious Basterds. And the one thing Nolan is notorious for is writing mindbending original films (two of his films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, both Batman films). This is his third mainstream original project and they seem to get better with time. Memento dealt with short term memory loss and featured a strong performance from Guy Pearce while The Prestige dealt with revenge over the death of a loved one and the consequences of it but this time Nolan goes too far (or not far enough) as his latest blockbuster delves into the world of dreams.
Inception‘s plot is one that cannot be simply described coherently by someone who has seen the movie to someone who hasn’t. The main gist of the film is that our main character Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an extractor, one who goes into peoples dreams (which is totally illegal) and steals their secrets. This is usually done with a point man, who in this film is Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt). After a botched job on a successful business man named Saito (Ken Watanabe), Saito hires them to break into the mind of the son of a wealthy businessman and plant an idea, or perform the title of the movie, Inception. Arthur deems this impossible while Cobb claims it is. Cobb forms a team which features an architect who is cleverly named (Ellen Page) as well as more well rounded out characters. They break into the mind but all hell breaks loose before it can go right. I’m going to stop there because even this little bit doesn’t make much sense to me.
So let’s try to tackle how powerful the visuals are. The scene above is probably one of the best scenes in the entire movie, with gravity being thrown about and chaos ensuing. The visuals are on par with Avatar for effects. Granted in my opinion Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the best looking, Inception takes reality and rapes it with it’s story and the way of visually telling the story.
With large chunks of the film taking place in dreams there are certain visual techniques Nolan uses to show what is the real world and what isn’t. (Look for establishing shots of the scenery). Nolan not only crafts and weaves a beautiful story visually but hits the audio nail on the head.
Some films feature needless audio sound but there is no wasted stock sound effects. You can hear music in the dreams and its so well timed and edited into it that you can’t notice if unless you were paying attention. While the soundtrack was ominous as all get out. And the best sound effect in the entire film was the sound of a clock/watch going tick tok throughout the dream sequences to add to the ominous factor.
Inception though does suffer once in a while from pacing issues but most movies do as well and this one is obvious in some instances. But when you have an epic like this being told in just a mere 2 and a half hours it becomes hard to convey it all.
Pretty cool s$%^ no? Yeah it is, Nolan cannot do this all on his [directing and writing as well as with effects]. He needs a strong cast and he has it. With well rounded out actors such as DiCaprio and Gordon Levitt holding huge roles he also gets strong performances from Watanabe, as well as new comer Thomas Hardy. Michael Caine delivers a stellar minor role. Page delivers her lines the same way she always has I felt, which I guess is all good. Cillian Murphy steals the show in certain sequences with his acting but the real show stopper is Marian Cotillard (spelling?).
But what really helps these actors develop their character is the writing for it, DiCaprio’s character isn’t just thrown out to us but slowly developed in 4 different scenes, all at important plot times. I feel that Nolan has a firm grasp on what a film should be, what it shouldn’t be.
I would see Inception again and again but each time it loses its charm and wit, the ability to confuse you and leave you wanting more and questioning your reality. After the first view you leave the theater wanting more from Nolan, you feel disappointed to a certain extent. A second viewing allows you to catch everything you missed (I would hope) and leave you still breathless at the end.
RATING: 10.5/10, best movie of the year