4 Aug

Title: Inception
Year: 2010
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sequences of violence and action throughout
Runtime: 148 min
Major Awards: 1 WGA Award, 3 BAFTAs
IMDb Rating: 9.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

So here we are, the review of Inception, the film that, I think, is the best film of the year so far, and a film that will be tough for others to throw off that spot. Inception had tremendous expectations surrounding it, a huge amount of buzz on the secrecy of the plot, teaser trailers that revealed not much at all, a fantastic cast and a director that two years earlier had released The Dark Knight, one of the best films of that year, if not the whole last decade, and the sixth highest-grossing film of all-time. I’m writing this review on August 4th, 2010, over three weeks after Inception was first released in the States, where it just finished spending its third straight week at the top of the box office, and the worldwide total for it is now nearly at $370 million, and it’s gonna keep going for a while. I’m writing it now because I was, and still am, behind on my reviews and try to do them chronologically, but I saw Inception again yesterday, my seventh time so far, and it just really is one of the most innovative and thought-provoking films I have ever seen.

I don’t really know where to begin writing this review, I’ve written nearly one hundred of these so far this year and I have never, at least not to an embarrassingly noticeable extent, been overly fanboy about a film, but Inception is the sort of film that makes me act like a fanboy, I’ve seen it seven times so far and, unless something weird happens tomorrow, that number should turn to eight by this time tomorrow, and it should keep going up like crazy until Scott Pilgrim vs. The World arrives in a couple of weeks, because I’m a huge fan of those comics and the film looks pretty damn rad.

I’m a fanboy of Inception for a huge number of reasons, Mr. Nolan is a director that has directed not a single below-average film, actually, he hasn’t directed a film that hasn’t been plain great, not even ‘average’, look at this filmography: Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight and now Inception, all of those films rank from ‘pretty damn awesome’ to ‘modern masterpiece’, so yes, the fact that it’s directed by a guy who has a, literally, flawless career is something to love.

Another thing is the cast, Mr. DiCaprio as the leading man, and reportedly the only person Mr. Nolan and Emma Thomas, his wife and producing partner, would consider for the role of Cobb, he is one of great actors of our generation and a guy that will sooner or later pick up that Oscar. Then we have the role of Ariadne, my favorite character in the movie, a role which was stupidly turned down by Evan Rachel Wood and was, thankfully, then given to Ellen Page, an actress who, in my opinion, can do no wrong, and is just ridiculously talented, and super cool and a person who I think would get along with me if I somehow got lucky and managed to talk to her. The rest of the cast is just as great, Joseph Gordon Levitt, who became a favorite of girls everywhere after last year’s terrific (500) Days of Summer, Tom Hardy who has one of the coolest roles in the film, Marion Cotillard who’s been great at picking her projects since she won the Oscar, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy, who worked with Mr. Nolan before in the Batman films, and, of course, Michael Caine, who seems to have become Mr. Nolan’s staple actor, appearing in every film he’s done since Batman Begins.

But the reason why people will go nuts about Inception the most is just the theme of it all, the whole existential heist plot, the possibilities it presents, the feeling you leave the theatre with, as if your mind has just been completely turned around, it’s just a film that gives one so much to think about, during and well after you’ve finished watching it. It’s a film that to me was perfect, it may have some plot holes and flaws, but I didn’t notice them, it just gets you so damn immersed into its world that you don’t notice anything wrong, you’re just perplexed at what you’re watching. And that’s because, in the technical aspect of it all, Inception is a terrific film, look at those no-gravity fight scenes with Mr. Gordon-Levitt, those were done with a harness and him actually doing his own stunts and fighting in similar conditions, that’s what’s so great about Mr. Nolan, he doesn’t love CGI, if it can be done physically, no matter how hard it may be, he gets it done, and the result is that much better because of it, this is a film that had just 500 visual effects shots, while a film of this type regularly has just around 2’000, that number comparison right there should be enough for you to grasp the organic approach of Mr. Nolan, and get a whole new sort of appreciation for his craft and for Inception.

There’s a point in the film when Cobb, Mr. DiCaprio’s character, asks Ariadne, Ms. Page’s character, to draw a maze in a minute, this is done to test her skills, to see if she has what it takes to become the ‘Architect’ in his team. She starts by drawing a couple of rather simple mazes, mazes that take some concentration to solve, but that other than that won’t pose that much trouble, then Cobb presses her, and Ariadne proceeds to draw a far more complicated maze, one that only a highly skilled person would be able to draw, and one that would take one serious concentration and time to fully solve, that final maze represents this film to me. Mr. Nolan knows we can keep along with the films that act as those simpler labyrinths, but Inception is like that final one Ariadne draws, one that’s just too well-done and will take ages for us to solve, fortunately Mr. Nolan is the real Architect, he’s the one that created this labyrinth so perfectly, and he’s the one that will guide us through, but he’ll be a guide that’ll be running along the maze, we as an audience can follow him, but it’s our job to keep up with his pace.

And one thing that inevitably comes through our minds when watching Inception is how well-crafted a maze it is, it took Nolan pretty much a whole decade to get this one done, he started coming up with this while he did Memento, and he presented it as a spec to Warner Bros. in 2002, and since then has been slowly but surely working on it until now, because, really, imagine how hard a maze it was to create, how much rewriting had to be done, because he realized that if he created a wall to the right of his maze then a wall he had created a couple steps behind had to be rearranged, this film is just seriously well done, everything has a cause and effect that’s perfectly in place. Fortunately for us, Mr. Nolan is pretty much the master of telling stories that are seriously tough to be told, The Prestige is told in an unconventional fashion and he made that one work incredibly well, and of course Memento, his masterpiece, is a film told backwards, and he made that one work in a way I doubt any other filmmaker could have.

I don’t really want to go ahead and tell the plot, for one I think this is a plot that you either have to tell completely and really well, and that would take too much space and this is a review, or that you don’t tell at all and just tell a reader how unbelievable a journey it is. But for the most part, I won’t tell the plot because everyone should have seen this film by now and if you haven’t then you should be at a theatre instead of reading this. I’ll just say that the process of watching this film is perfect, how it introduces its very complex ideas is amazing, and how it relies on old formulas is great too, I mean, the introduction of Cobb’s team, even if their tasks are utterly unique, is the same introduction to every other team on every other good heist film, and it’s a formula that works, and Mr. Nolan knows that, and makes it work that much better in this one.

Another thing that works wonderfully because of Mr. Nolan is the emotional aspect of the story, how Mr. Nolan and Mr. DiCaprio were able to make Cobb’s emotional journey the one aspect to carry everything else along is great, and that’s when you realize how good an actor Mr. DiCaprio is, it’s not a flashy sort of performance, because this is a film that gets its flashiness from other places, but its an effective one. Again, this is a perfect film, it’s a perfect film, if anything, because we have nothing to compare it against, there is nothing like it, it has a lot of aspects from other genres, but inserted into whole new contexts that twist them beyond any recognition, this is a film that will remain perfect and unique because I doubt there’s a person moronic enough to try and recycle anything from this film, nobody would be dumb enough to look forward to such immense failure.

I could go on and on about my feelings for Inception, shared my theories about it all (and I have quite a few of them) but instead I just urge you to see it, and if you’ve seen it then I urge you to go see it again and again, this is a film that doesn’t come often, it’s the sort of film that makes you think about how much the film medium has left to offer, and I’ve actually read quite a bit of reviews that haven’t been so favorable to Inception, I mean, they have been favorable but not so overly joyous about it as I am being right now, but the one thing they all seem to say though is that, whatever your opinion may be about this film, you won’t feel your mind starting to wander off into nothingness, you won’t feel your eyelids closing and sleep coming in, and that’s because Mr. Nolan, his cast and his well-trusted technical team won’t let you, you’ll be immersed in this one no matter what.

I don’t know if Inception will get many Oscars, I think it’ll probably do like The Dark Knight did, grab a handful or two of nominations, mostly in the more technical categories, hopefully now with the expanded Best Picture pool it’ll be able to snatch that big nomination and it will end up winning two, three or four statues, probably only in those technical categories, but that’s not the point, the point is that this film kicks some serious ass, I loved it, I left the theatre wanting three things, 1) To study architecture, 2) To get home fast so I could build myself a totem of my own, 3) To go see it again, and that’s the point of this film, that it gets to you, or at least that’s what it did to me in so many ways. It will be two years before we get to see what Mr. Nolan does with his third entry in the Batman franchise he completely reimagined, and that’s a wait that will in all probability be more than worth it, and that, after the Inception blu-ray is released this December, will be spent watching this one again and again.

Grade: A+


One Response to “Inception”

  1. thethrussellproject March 19, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    Great review, looking at your 2010 list reminds me just how good it was that year for movies!

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