Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inception (2010)


Hoping to get back to his family, professional information extractor Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes one final job for company boss Saito (Ken Watanabe). The job? To plant a single thought into the mind of future business mogul Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphey) - destroy everything his father worked for.

"Do you want to take a leap of faith?"

I'd be hard pressed to think of a modern director with as much knack for building, and delivering, pure tension than Christopher Nolan. The man has a down to a true art form. And how does he do it? Well as best I can tell: 1) lots of loud thumps 2) keep piling one problem on top of another and 3) let the audience fill in any gaps.

Putting that to the test, Nolan has presented us with Inception: The most visually bending live action film since The Matrix. Astounding in its creativity, confident in its execution, and powerful in its delivery. I, for one, am not in the least bit shocked it has grabbed at the awe of those most susceptible to its charms.

Like any Nolan film, he delivers the hook early, and drags the viewer throughout the run time right until you're in his grasp. It's a tactic that takes a lot of risk: if he misses early, he'll never get you back.

And I have to say, right from the start, he just about missed. With an opening that felt rushed (and dare I say sloppy), Nolan thrusts us right into the world of corporate espionage, multi-layered dreams, and creative imagery. All the while not explaining a lot, trying to tie it all around a very thinly laid out plot. Not to mention a horrid case of the Thank You for Smoking explanation write offs (thank god the government invented X or this would be hard!).

So, kicking and screaming, I went along with it. Accepted the 2 minute random appearance of Michael Caine for a little back drop. Didn't begrudge a painfully underused Pete Postlethwaite (...maybe). And allowed Nolan to deliver me his vision, and the quicker he did it, the better we all were for it.

Once Nolan is able to enter the mind. Once the main plot kicks in. The movie really begins. Able to open his directorial vision to the maximum, Nolan captivates, awes, and wows with each passing dream. Constantly building more. Constantly delivering more. Each new layer of dream not only opens a new plot hook, but also a new door to the inner workings of our main characters. We get to know them better. Finally develop the attachments the prior half lacked. And, most importantly, develop an understanding for the world Nolan wishes to create.

A world were time is always available, if you know the tricks. A world were the mind is key to entrance and escape. And, most importantly, a world where control of the mind can mean the difference between success, and insanity. Delivering this world with swift thumps, and high octane fuel, Nolan powers the film straight through each new development. Constantly keeping the audience on their heels, forcing their eyes to not sway from the screen. It's a gripping experience.

Then, dare I say, comes the ending. An ending I can safely say is meant to inspire repeat viewings and debate (as it already has) among the truly sold of audience members. I, unfortunately, wasn't one of them. I loved the action. I loved the delivery. I was absorbed in every fabric of the world. It's just, when it came down to it, I don't care enough to debate the ending. I liked the characters, but never enough to want to analyze their deepest dreams. Examine scenes in a manner of Holmes. Sure, it makes me wonder. But there in ends my desire.

I don't doubt that Inception may well be the visual film of the year. It may well be the directorial film of the year (if for no other reason than it's latter half). And, I'm quite sure, it'll make for one hell of a journey even on repeat viewings. Still, I don't love it. I admire, and appreciate, it. Not to mention, I loved the ride. I only just vaguely cared. And before you say my expectations were too high. I went in expecting it to be mediocre at best (as my recent tweets and posts can most account for). Inception is one hell of a ride. Definitely the best ride I've been on all year. But if you ask me what I most remember. It was the action. Not the story, or the characters. And for movies I love. Those two are my key points.

A visual feast, Nolan's Inception brings all the thrills we've waited all Summer to get in one jam packed punch. Masking its narrative short comings in massive ambiguity, Inception will (and has) inspired legions of fans to analyze, dissect, and attempt to understand any deeper meaning. Though I do wonder how much of that meaning is projected onto the film, and how much is really analyzed in the film (to any real extent). Tense to the nth degree, Inception will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a little kick just before the credits role.

7 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Whaddaya mean you don't love it - you gave it a 7.5 out of 8!

Mike Lippert said...

When is Pete Postlethwaite not criminally underused? I had basically the same reaction: the movie takes too long to find it's footing, spending too much time explaning and setting up before it exploded. The Dark Knight as the same way but once it got rolling, I cared about everything that happened in The Dark Knight. This one is just a really good action movie.

Simon said...

The only one criminally underused was Michael Caine.

The action scenes were amazing. Seriously, fight within a fight[...].

Castor said...

Glad to see you have not falling prey to the fanboyism taking over the world with this movie. Completely agree with you, it certainly is a good movie but I didn't love it and it failed to emotionally engage me more than mildly. 7.50 is in line with my 8/10 :)

Univarn said...

@Mad 7.50 is really like, but short of the love stature an 8 or above would give it.

@Mike I didn't mind the time it took to set it up, I just don't think it did a good job of setting it up. But I do agree, The Dark Knight had a far more emotional grip to it than this one. I have to say the use of "limbo" was Nolan's real great narrative idea. If it wasn't for the threat of that there would be no reason to feel hardly any tension during the finale at all.

@Simon Michael Caine is amazing, but he's always been given his due credit. Postlethwaite has been great for years, but only seldom given meaty enough roles to stretch his legs.

@Castor Fanboys are a mixed feeling for me. I don't mind people loving a movie after they've seen it. But prior to seeing it, feels more like marketing fanaticism rather than attained appreciation. It takes more than loud thumps and amazing imagery for me to get excited for something.

Fletch said...

Castor, that's a cheap shot and you know it. So, if someone does love it, they are hereby deemed a 'fanboy?' Is that like the scarlet letter?

Uni - Ha, loved the reference to Thank You for Smoking! That bit of dialogue is one of my most favorite things ever.

filmgeek said...

I'm with you

"Still, I don't love it. I admire, and appreciate, it. Not to mention, I loved the ride. I only just vaguely cared."

The difference is, I had really high expectations

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