Review: Nolan's Inception IS the Movie Event of the Summer
by Jeremy Kirk
July 17, 2010
When I was younger, in school when I would get bored, I would put pen to paper and create mazes. Turn after turn, I would make them as elaborate as I could, pushing the outside walls as close to the edge of the paper. I don't know how difficult they were or how they would fare on an entertainment level. I never tested them on anyone. It was the act of creating the maze that entertained me. As someone who knows how vast and detailed mazes can get, as well as someone who has written a few scripts, I understand the difficulties and time that can go into each. Having said all that, I cannot even imagine creating something as detailed and as elegantly masterful as what Christopher Nolan has accomplished with Inception.
A mind-bending masterpiece, Inception is a film that challenges its audience, that takes the very laws of physics that we have come to take for granted and exploits them to the story it has to tell. But, more so than that, it is a film that wholly entertains. It works on so many levels that it would be impossible to pull in every bit of information on one passing. These are the best kinds of mysteries. Inception is one such type of film that makes me love the medium so much, the kind of rule bending that can only be witnessed through cinema. This is Christopher Nolan, a man who has always been at the top of his game, at his very best.
But don't think Inception is just an endless string of mind-numbing and complex scenery. The story at hand is quite simple. It is a heist movie. Just like Ocean's Eleven, Thief, or Le cercle rouge, Inception is a film about a team of thieves. Only instead of breaking into a bank vault, they must break into someone's mind.
Set in a world where such technology exists that can allow someone to enter another person's dreams, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a master at getting into someone's mind and extracting a piece of information that is vital to whoever hired him. When Inception opens, after a bookending scene between DiCaprio and an extremely aged Ken Watanabe, we are mid-way through such a heist. Things don't go quite as planned, and Cobb finds himself in the debt of Saito, Watanabe, a CEO who offers Cobb a job. He sets Cobb and his team to enter the mind of a rival, played by Cillian Murphy, and instead of pulling something out, he wants them to plant the seed of an idea. In essence, he wants Cobb to convince the rival to disband the corporate empire left to him by his father. Of course, as with any good heist movie, the plan is difficult. It is unknown at first if anyone has ever succeeded at inception, but Cobb and his team are willing to try.
Nolan does an incredible job establishing the stakes. Cobb is a man who cannot return to the states. It has something to do with his wife, played by Marion Cotillard. We don't know the full details at first, but she appears in Cobb's dreams, a subconscious projection of guilt that foils Cobb's plans every chance it gets. Saito offers Cobb the chance to go home, to clear him of the charges against him, and, despite the dangers to him and to the members of his team, Cobb agrees.
Those members, by the way, are another perfect way Inception captures the heist movie. Each character is exquisitely written and acted. Every character is layered to the point that any of them could be the star of their own film. The cast that makes the team up, actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, and Dileep Rao, each bring their own sensibilities to the team. The camaraderie here is off the chart, especially between Gordon-Levitt and Hardy who bring the film its best examples of brevity. After seeing Inception and with the current problems surrounding the next James Bond film, it may be high time to begin the campaign to get a Christopher Nolan/Tom Hardy collaboration involved.
But more than a heist movie, or a sci-fi thriller set in the confines of the mind, or even an emotionally engaging film about one man's past mistakes and an attempt to redeem himself to his own subconscious, Inception is a masterwork of structure from its atmospheric yet mysterious opening to its ambiguous yet satisfying conclusion. Just as the characters are perfectly layered, so, too, is the film itself both figuratively and quite literally. Through most of the film, there are three stories going on, the details of which or even their layout would probably reveal too much. However, it should be noted the way Nolan and film editor Lee Smith cut between these three scenes is breathtaking and flawless.
Inception is a film that takes basic laws of physics like time and gravity and bends them almost to the point of breaking. But playing by the rules of the film, rules that have been laid out for the viewer's observation, it all makes perfect sense. So much so, in fact, that you don't spend much time thinking about what is going on. You just enjoy the intensity of each scene as it plays out, and believe me when I say every aspect of Inception is topped with intense action.
There are a million things to analyze about Inception, a million conversations one could have about every last detail of the film. However, to capture those details takes much more than one viewing and would take a few volumes of single spaced books to put them all down. It's easy to say you love a film. It takes a bit more passion, the kind of passion that comes from a film like Inception, to genuinely make the claim that this film is the movie event of the summer, maybe of the entire year. With Inception, Christopher Nolan has given us the most intense and thought-provoking story put to film in years. Who better to do just that than a modern master of his craft? What better masterpiece can such a craftsman create than one that challenges as well as entertains as much as this film does? It truly is the perfect maze, one whose walls you don't mind passing through even after you know the way out.
Jeremy's Rating: 10 out of 10