Inception — Review
After seeing Inception a second time, I have finally come to a conclusion about the film.
It took me a while to fully comprehend and analyze this film’s effectiveness, and exactly how it affected me and my psyche. Now, do not mistake the aforementioned comment as distaste or disapproval for the film, as I greatly enjoyed it both times. However, it took viewing the film again to properly wrap my head around the enigmatic puzzle that is Inception, and to properly enumerate my feelings on the subject. Here is my answer; Inception is one of the greatest works of Science Fiction of the new millennia.
First off, let me quickly run down the overall plot.
Inception revolves around a man named Thomas Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), an Extractor. Meaning in short that he is a dream thief; although it’s a little more elegant than that. Basically, through the use of a MacGuffin device, extractors and their teams can enter into your dreams and basically interrogate you, or your sub-conscious mind; all the while searching for a more physical manifestation of your secrets projected from your mind. Think of it like being Freddy Kruger with an agenda of stealing secrets instead of killing you.
Thomas, who can’t return to his children and home in America due to legal reasons, is living his life trying desperately to build up the funds to buy his way home, is suddenly faced with a way home by a recent would-be victim of his, the powerful Saito (Ken Watanabe). The deal involves Cobb being able to perform an Inception, a supposedly impossible feat, the act of planting a thought in the victim’s head without him knowing about it, effectively causing him to believe that idea is his own, and follow it. In exchange for the inception, Saito using his powers as a wealthy businessman to enable Cobb to return home. Cobb assembles the team, and goes into the dream, unknowing of what terrors Cobb’s own troubled mind will inflict upon the operation.
Anything more than that would really ruin the film for you if you haven’t seen it yet, so if you still intrigued either after that synopsis, trust me in saying you will enjoy this film. I have heard many people say this film is apparently immune to spoilers…but I personally disagree with that as the film still has a plot and if you are told the ending, it still blunts the film impact a little.
The acting in this film is quite remarkable in the fact that it is so unremarkable. I feel like just about everyone in the cast gets their character, and is able to portray them in a charming subdued manner, and it feels just absolutely right.
DiCaprio plays a smart, cunning character in Cobb. While his role is fairly similar to some of his previous work, coming off as sort of the same arcitype. One should note there is a reason for that. Namely that he is almost always perfect in these roles, and Inception is not different in this regard. As the plot progresses, you feel the depth of his emotions, you empathize with his plight, and you really, REALLY want things to work out in the end. Dicaprio’s scenes with costar Marion Cotilliard, as his wife are hauntingly beautiful. While I don’t believe DiCaprio’s performance is quite Oscar worthy, I do believe he is a large reason why the film works so well, and is in itself Oscar worthy.
Ellen Page, yes the same one from Juno fame, portrays a wonderful audience stand-in character, named Ariadne. She embodies with all the wonderment and fear that comes with this wonderous world, and asks all the questions we need to know to understand the world and its environment. It is not uncommon for the audience stand-in type to be limited in actual personality as a character, however Ariadne plays a keen role in the film, and Page handles it deftly. I feel that Page has surpassed her role as Juno with this film, and has really secured her future as a credible actor, instead of a one-trick fame-lucky pony. (Although I liked Juno, and thought she was credible their too)
Much has been said of the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the role of Arthur, Cobb’s right hand man and partner. I too enjoy his performance, and I believe that if this was a different movie, he and his character could easily have been the leading man. His performance is clever, believable, and his interactions with both Page and Tom Hardy are absolutely golden. He is slick, charming, and if he was British…he would be a contender for the role of James Bond.
The remaining cast all play their roles well: Watanabe is a little hard to understand in some scenes, but does a remarkable imposing character at times, and an incredibly loyal and strong character in others. Tom Hardy is absolutely hilarious, and really lightens the film at its most tense times. Cotillard is stunningly gorgeous, and is absolutely captivating every time she is on screen. It’s her presence that nearly always comes with an ominous air, and she does scary exactly right. The rest of the characters fall sadly into the periphery but they all are professional, and believable in their own ways.
The actual direction and filming of the movie is superb. Every cut, every scene is smooth, stylized, and just plain cool to look at. The setting of the dreams are beautiful. The scenery is mostly French in appearance, the settings are absolutely delicious to the eye, and they really draw you in.
Much of the stunt work, and set pieces in this film look too good to be real, the rotating gravity hallway scene is everything you could dream of in an action scene. Just about everything in the production of this film is incredible, except one thing. At two parts of the film you will notice a slight completely unbelievable application of makeup, but other than that the asthetics are quite fetching.
Little in this film disappoints, but there is some playing around with impossible architecture, and unlimited nature of the dream state that could have been implemented on a larger scale, since it’s so cool. However, I believe it would have been a distractionary gimmick, and one that Nolan wisely bites back from using.
Since the goal of the plot is to continually convince the mark that his dream is reality, if you have a random dinosaur attack in the middle, it would completely break the flow of the movie. That being said when something over the top dreamy happens, it is natural and integral to the plot.
The Score of the film is somewhat lackluster, and at the same time perfect. The famous Hans Zimmer wrote it, and it’s disappointingly similar to his work on Nolan’s Batman films. They’re all good, but you could swap scores with The Dark Knight, and not have a single issue. I nitpick at this point, but nothing in this score other than the use of the tune “Non, je ne regretted rein” feels distinctly original. The music is decent and effective…I just wish it was more unique in design.
While some film critics have lashed out with some incredibly jaded responses about the originality of this film, I believe Nolan has truly crafted a world unique to him. This is a crowning achievement in his career, one that I personally think, in ways, surpasses The Dark Knight.
I don’t think this movie really is too high brow for the majority of audiences, and I would disregard it as just elitist speak. Yes, the movie is long, complex on levels, but ultimately not that hard to understand or follow. Don’t let the critical talk dissuade you from seeing this film.
Overall, Inception is a wonderful movie and one that will take you on a journey that will captivate your dreams for months to come, and may very well inspire your thoughts afterwards.
* If you want some great dream movies that do more playing around in a dream, watch the anime movie Paprika, The horror movie Nightmare on Elm Street, or the horrible movie Dreamscape.
* Think of all the spin off potential! Sequels, Books, Comics, Games, Television, this could be the next biggest nerd thing to completely sell out!