REVIEWS

Review: Nolan's Inception IS the Movie Event of the Summer

by
July 17, 2010

Inception

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

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  • Icefilm
    The Italian Job meets The Matrix... Who knew a combination like that would make one heck of a sci-fi movie! One of the best I've ever seen, if I made add. Great review!
  • Xerxex
    I'm just glad this movies wasn't overhyped like TDK, they hype killed that one. That said I truly enjoyed this film.
  • http://adambeaver.webs.com Adam Beaver
    Great review! Great movie! And I agree with the rating 10 - 10 easily. Noaln is a pure genius, and I cant wait for the next Batman!
  • Icefilm
    Xerxex, you are correct. The Dark Knight was way too overhyped. That's not to say it wasn't a fantastic film, though. In fact, I'll even go as far as to say that I enjoyed INCEPTION more than I did TDK. They did the right thing by keeping the a lot of the film underwraps until you actually see it for yourself, because it really is the only way to understand and enjoy INCEPTION. It just comes to prove that sometimes a small marketing move can have a bigger effect than a huge one.
  • Tim_Dahill
    agreed......you just totally nailed it on the head
  • Xerxex
    @Icefilm I certianly enjoyed TDK and regard it as one of my most favorite films, but the hype was annoying after a while, which garnered a lot of hate for The Dark Knight. Inception however was underhyped and it surpried the hell outta me, I loved every second of it. You are right a smaller marketing move can infact make a film even better. It is the perfect film at least in my eyes. My brother and I walked out of our local cinema and when I asked him what he thought he said and I quote "Maybe the best movies I have ever seen" end quote, and I couldn't agree more, and we have see a lot of films...a lot, alot.
  • Jericho
    i just finished watching it...it gets expensive after going back for a third time and it getting better than the last
  • sweet
    I don't remember the last time I walked out of a movie and felt like I had just seen something incredible, something that I was privileged to have experienced. Nolan is a genius at layering and telling complex stories in a way that audience members understand, yet leaving enough ambiguity and nuance in the movie to keep us talking about it afterward (and wanting to see it again). Memento and Inception are truly works of art. Best movie I've seen in years.
  • David I.
    One word: Flawless.
  • Shannon
    I'm with #3 - TDK was disappointing. I'm glad that I walked into this full of eagerness & it was actually met this time. Solid performances from all actors (not just one, like in TDK) was what really helped move the story along. Beautiful & brilliant.
  • Vic
    inception is the second coming of christ....inception was directed by god actually. please bow down to this movie for the rest of your life.
  • MMH
    well said Jeremy
  • ian kuah
    You're so right about the film not being confusing. I expected to gain a lot more the second time i watched it, but i didn't. I thoroughly understood it the first time through. The second time through i just had the heads up and could make the connections easily and things made more sense, but i didn't really gain much more, which isn't a negative thing at all! I think if a movie is too confusing to catch most of what is going on the first time you watch it, something is wrong. Nolan's writing is genius enough for the common movie-goer to feel included in the story and not wholly lost. Inception is, without a doubt, the best film of the year so far, and a new personal favorite of mine. Wonderful review, thank you for the 10/10, i totally agree!
  • beavis
    well, i stopped by here for some discussion and all i find is an "inception lovefest". i liked it but i didn't feel it was any more than a good movie. and why all the overhype discussion for TDK? ( because of nolans connection, i guess?) and no, i didn't feel the hype hurt TDK - i thought it was very good. the most over-hyped movie of all time was avatar..........10+ years of hyperbole and sites like this constantly giving meaningless updates to the production and whatnot ..... and i was COMPLETELY disappointed in that film.
  • Xerxex
    sorry beavis, but what did you expect? kirk gave it a 10 out of 10, and inception was amazingly underhyped, which worked for it. TDK was brought up because you guessed it nolan connection. the tdk at first was well deserved but about two months down the road it got kinda ridiculous, but TDK dosen't take the cake in the most overrated contest, avatar does 125% I don't usually say a film is truly amazing unless it actually is, and to me inception was a gem, compared to recent films...but I'm sure another film will come along and floor me the same way inception did. there are only 15 comments so far more to come I'm sure. in the mean time what would you like to discuss?
  • beaker
    it was ok. not great. just ok. come on #11 thats just horsehit. this movie had a lot of good scenes and some rubbish bits. tom hardy was the best bit and leo for me was the worst.
  • http://ja_ya_d@yahoo.com BumAround
    Check this out: The wife (Mal) left the main character (Cobb) to life her normal life in reality. Cobb and Saito are the only real humans in this movie. All of the others are not real, succumbed to Cobb's expertise in build meticulous dream realms. The movie is about two sad old souls who choose to live "dreamy" lives instead of growing old and die.
  • Jesus
    Bigger mind fuck than Memento. There was no part of this movie that i did not love.
  • Voice of Reason
    I dug it, they made a dense movie understandable to the masses through quality storytelling but it pulled for too long for too little pay off in my opinion. Was it good? Yes, it was. Was it THE best? No, it was not. Frankly I think people are taking to this movie because it's a smart film during traditionally mindless summer romps. It's worthwhile to think about how this movie would be perceived with a November release. Nolan is an astounding filmmaker, no doubt, but people are gobbling this movie up because they are hungry for substance, but this movie has a lot of MSG to give the illusion of feeling full and sated. I just didn't find dicaprios story or character worth ALL that went on for so long, and for what, a cliffhanger? Good stories have endings, mysteries are meant to be solved and the basics of storytelling include a denouement.
  • Xerxex
    I don't think it wa much of a cliffhanger voice of reason...I mean the totem did wobble before it cut to black, if it kept spinning and spinning then it would be cause for alarm, but it wobbled. Not all mysteries need be solved, some are better left mysteries.
  • Voice of Reason
    Wobble or not you don't know how it ended & people CRAVED for finality after that what-is-real-and-what-is-not ride. You're out of your mind, Xerxex, that ending was the definition of a cliffhanger.
  • BaleHail
    Please don't stone me - but I thought it was one giangantic, overhyped yawn fest. The movie nearly put me to sleep - dreaming about an exciting movie. This was lame. Nolan is overrated.
  • ian kuah
    What the hell is wrong with the ending? there are so many ambiguous-ended films out there, and this one only leaves two possibilities. Why should a movie have to make up my mind on every single point? To me it's like a book: most of it is detailed for the reader, the rest is left up to the imagination. The ending of Inception leaves it open just enough for the viewer to question what reality actually is. I'm not saying the ending is one way or the other. Honestly, i have no idea! But i loved it!! I can think one way, the top falls and Cobb is really reunited, or the whole story is one big dream. Either way, it makes for a fantastic ending and a reason to discuss the film.. Why can't film be more than just entertainment? I love discussing good films with friends, those are some of the best discussions ever (Donnie Darko, The Mist, The Matrix, etc.). I guess what i'm thinking is this: it's fine if you have issues with the film, but really, the ending isn't that surprising. Do you really think it could have ended a better way?
  • Xerxex
    @Voice of Reason but that ending worked so well for the story.
  • http://www.mkingscott.co.uk Mike Kingscott
    I wrote a much shorter review on my blog, still giving it 5 stars. I think that it should be watched going in knowing as little as possible. It's odd, Jeremy, but I never really thought of it as an action film, despite it having many action pieces. The bit at the end (the van over the bridge, and everything else that is happening) was incredibly well handled. Very impressed and entertained.
  • nali
    Regrading comments on TDK it was a great movie.......n as for the performance everyone did a great job,it was the superhero movie that redefined superhero movie genre,pointless arguing,it got universal love n deserved all the hype it got,what we have to understand is nolan is a great story teller/director memento,insomania,prestige,batman begins,TDK n now inception all top notch,the stories are complex is a good way and we are kept involved in the story,we don't have time to rest turn around etc etc coz if we do we loose smthing vital to the story..........so Im looking forward eargely to batman 3 which im certain will be an awesome movie as well.
  • Jimmy Love
    Well its safe to say that TDK is now the second most hyped movie, I was really looking forward to seeing this tho at the time getting out to the movies is not happening. I should never have read this the comments section is an inception spooge fest. The hype o meter is going way up now!
  • Have Hope
    Very good movie but not a MASTERPIECE. It just did not have that spark, that magic factor to make it an all-time classic of a film. Forget TDK, easily Nolan's worst film. That is when hype destroys a movie. This was MUCH better and back to the Nolan that we know. I just feel it does not have the magical dust of a T2 or Jurassic Park or a Matrix. I also hate this whole notion that because it's "smart" it is therfore much better than Matrix or T2 which is absurd. A very good movie, one Nolan's best but is NOT a classic MASTERPIECE
  • jason
    spoiler SPOILER The ending is so good it make you take a whole perspective of what you just saw and SPOILER in the ending the top was walbaling so what ever you want to think does it fall or does it stand its the viewers decision.
  • http://promovieblogger.com/ ProMovieBlogger
    Nice review Kirk. "I cannot even imagine creating something as detailed and as elegantly masterful as what Christopher Nolan has accomplished with Inception." It took Nolan ten years to write Inception. "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." Not all of the characters are layered. "The camaraderie here is off the chart, especially between Gordon-Levitt and Hardy who bring the film its best examples of brevity." Agreed. Levitt's reactions were great. Inception COMIC BOOK PREQUEL: The Cobol Job http://film-book.com/inception-comic-book-prequel-the-cobol-job/ @16 It was a lot better than ok.
  • Gary the Bruce
    @23: I think the movie that resembles INCEPTION the most is Tarsem Singh's THE CELL in which a psychiatrist goes "inside" the mind of a serial killer to find out the location of his last victim. It is one of my favorite films on the subject of dream/alternate reality. The film is seriously marred with one incredibly sick, sadomasochistic scene which is not necessary for the advancement of the plot. But actually, if you have seen ABC's LOST, this movie is just an expensive visual thesis of that mad, sprawling James Bond-ish action-packed TV series about ... "letting go"
  • http://www.dlmentertainment.com DLM Entertainment
    Holy shit I can't wait to see this movie. This looks like a fantastic movie and Dark Knight was probably the best movie I've ever laid eyes on. My expectations for this one are high, but from all the buzz I'm hearing and the reviews I'm reading, it looks like my expectations are going to be blown away. http://www.dlmentertainment.com/?c=135&cn=Inception
  • Geoff
    Easily in my top 10 all time...brilliant movie
  • Jesus
    wow, i never thought i would see someone call the dark knight disappointing...what else could you ever want from a movie!?!
  • http://theplans4boatsreview.com zach
    I am definitely going to be seeing this movie ASAP! Dark Night was such a great thriller and gave me high expectations for this movie. From what I've been reading, it looks like it is going to live up to my expectations. Can't wait to see what Christopher Nolan has done in this film!
  • nali
    Inception didnt exactly show a big jump in revenue from friday to saturday,so it will be interesting to see this movies future performance.
  • Geoff
    This is easily my favorite movie of the last 10 years...this is gonna nudge a movie out of my top 10 list.
  • Geoff
    @37 - It's hard to take someone serious who thinks The Dark Knight was awful. Could you at least name some movies in that genre that you think are better? Anything action or comic book would count. Otherwise you come off looking like a kid who is trying to get attention by insulting everything around him.
  • brian ricci
    I think the dark knight was awful. I always have. The only good thing about that movie is the joker. Ledger was incredible. Everything else sucked.
  • Dylan
    @38 - I agree. I would like to see everyone who posts back up their opinions with movies they do think a great, and why (I will be breaking my own rule b/c I am late for work here). I for one was blown away by the story of Inception. There were very few [arts of the whole movie that did not leave me in awe of Nolan's film making. Well done sir, well done. I have been a huge fan since my first viewing of Memento and I eagerly await any future film Nolan decides to become involved with. Additionally, I love the fact that I came out of the theater and could not wait to talk about the plot and the twists that were sprinkled throughout. Excellent movie. Truly excellent. Eff-you hollywood for cranking out garbage just to max your profits. Fresh ideas seem to be a serious minority these days, but are soooo welcome when they are done right (District 9, Pan's Labyrinth, Inception, etc.)
  • Richard
    Wow I just saw this and it was pretty amazing, I need to see it again in about a week or so to see what I missed.
  • http://www.dlmentertainment.com DLM Entertainment
    30+ #Inception Movie Posters here http://su.pr/1Q7eIk Your mind is the scene of the crime, and your wall is the scene for these posters!
  • DoomCanoe
    saw it for the second time today was ever better!
  • Craig
    It was good, and another viewing, I think, let me decide if it is very good. But 10 out of 10. No. It raced through the plot leaving you thinking "I think I know what's going on but I'm not entirely sure." Some people may see this as a good thing. At other times people would say that it simply was a bit of a muddle at times. Certainly many of the people I overheard talking about it when I left the cinema were not impressed.
  • Lukas
    @Craig: Seems to me the people you watched it with might have had more than a slightly difficult time following the plot. I think the pacing was well done. It only gives you the feeling/thinking that you aren't entirely sure of what's going on if you failed to comprehend the concepts, which, if you listen closely enough, were actually explained in the film. If you understand the premises, the "rules", if you may, it isn't as convoluted as some might think. This isn't a mindless action flick. What makes it beautiful is the concept being explored.
  • http://annassin.wordpress.com annassin
    If you guys have ever seen Dark City then you can draw a singular line running through them. It is like an upgraded version of that film plus so much more. Go and see the film. It is so worth every buck!
  • Gill
    Originality FTW.
  • MHinDC
    Sorry, I did not enjoy INCEPTION. I agree expert filmmaking is on display. And, yes, some of the ideas (the elevator / bus scenes) were incredible! This was my big problem: Unlike most "heist" movies, INCEPTION (for me) did not justify why the other heist-experts got involved. In OCEANS 11, there were REASONS: money, old age, one last big heist, etc. Not so much in INCEPTION. Also, for some reason the "projections of his subconscious" did not work for me. Because they weren't real, I really didn't care about Cobb's wife or the tons of "bad guys" who got shot or were shooting at the heros. Finally --- my big problem with INCEPTION is that, unlike THE MATRIX, I just DIDN'T CARE about Leo, Ellen, Marion, etc. None of the supporting characters took any sort of character arc. They didn't change. I don't think Nolan is a "deep thinker". He sort of hinted that maybe Ellen Page was attracted to Leo DiCaprio -- but didn't take it far enough. So all of her protestations and dialogue was not adequately motivated for me. Nolan seemed to operate with the assumption that "going into DreamLand is motivation ENOUGH". Nope. Didn't work for me at all. So, INCEPTION had some brainy ideas and a cool concept. But check out THE MATRIX for a concept that they sold very well, and -- in addition -- how they made us care about those characters. In INCEPTION, I JUST DIDN'T CARE. And that final image .... stupid. Nolan had the opportunity to make a fantastic action-adventure film with a cool theme about reality and the subconscious. In my opinion, he blew it. INCEPTION is better than most films out today. But it is not the masterpiece people are making it out to be. It reminds me of THE FOUNTAIN --- high-minded and interesting ... but ultimately a mess.
  • Clover
    Brilliant and so well crafted. Really need to see this again, I will admit I got lost quickly in the first act and by the time I had got up....here comes another level. Plus at late Sunday night showing was packed in a big room. That tells the tale for me. But I have to say an older film "Dreamscape" meets the "Matrix" is a better (defective as it may be), tag line. Good work Mr. Nolan.
  • Brandon
    Well #48 im glad im not the only one feeling that way. We are obviously the vocal minority. I thought the core idea of Inception was brilliant. In dreams, everything is possible. A dream within a dream? Love it. The 'kick' to get out of the dream? Awesome as Im sure some can relate waking up after dreaming of falling somehow...I know i have. So the concept is perfect. And what does Nolan do with it? Nothing really. I mean if you are in a dream within a dream, within a dream etc, where are the mind blowing visuals? There were none. Why didn't ellen's character 'build' anything cool? And since the 'bad guys' never really were a threat (they explain that in the beginning) whats the point? As there was never any real danger. And the music. Oh man. So overplayed, too loud just too annoying. I love Hans like everyone else but half of the dialog was drowned in music. Yet my biggest gripe was the snow level. Really visually totally a waste. Nothing interesting and for a sec i thought i was watching james Bond's ski chase from "for your eye only". Nolan even gives a nod by having one of the guys do a flip and shoot while going backwards. Come on...
  • Lindsey
    #49 and #50--I feel the same way, although I was afraid to say it at first. I really liked Inception and I do think it is incredibly well-made, but I didn't care about the characters, or what would happen to them. I also thought things would be a little more surreal, complex, and mind-bending. I thought it was relatively easy to understand. I think a lot of it had to do with my expectations. Nolan made exactly what he had in mind; I don't think he made any mistakes. I probably just had the wrong impression.
  • ty
    Im not stupid and I am thirsting for substance within all the bland copy cat films of this year and last but for gods sake what must a man do? must he break all ground in every field of story, visuals, action, and not to mention intensity. this film WAS in every way perfect. and in saying it was perfect Im not saying it is the best film of all time, Im simply saying find me one better, on the same level yes maybe but you find me one better. there isnt one to be found. Inception was incredible it satisfied every thing Ive ever wanted from a film, thought provoking!! Smart! smart as hell! different, complex but yet sooo damn well shown and played out for you that you dont EVER feel lost or confused, you just have to also be smart to follow a movie. I thought the visuals were totally killer I mean what the hell do you want Brandon #50, they put an entire city block into a 3 dimensional cube! I mean damn! man what did you want them to create? a purple elephant with monkeys coming out of its ass? or how bout a flying car with wings of a horse? I mean if there had been anything too crazy it wouldnt be believeable and cool, he did plenty with the visuals and within the dream worlds they were great! also I have to say that I left this movie feeling emotionally estranged, absent, but filled with question and wonderment, I was taunted and only wanted to sit and contemplate life itself and the questions we all ask ourselves at one time or another....what is real? the casting couldnt have been more perfect! di caprio was beautiful, as always, his emotion and fulfillment of his character was nice..was he the best, no, I also thought wantanabe was excellent! and tom hardy was perfect I would never go as far as to say he could be bond, but he was good. but I think that ellen page and gordon levitt stole the show they were both incredible. and on another note nolan is a genius he makes beautiful movies and delivers you a well crafted story, there are not many directors out there that you can truly say that about, there are some that are good and some that are great but few that have the whole package rolled into one. inception took you for a ride and at the end told you to figure it out I know your smart enough. all in all GO SEE THIS MOVIE it was the best Ive seen in a very long time, i have not written on this site I think since district 9 came out I only take the time when a film really deserves it and here this one deserves hours and pages.
  • Xerxex
    That's where you are wrong #48 The Fountain was fantastic.
  • blake
    AWESOME! NUFF SAID
  • http://thelondoneer.blogspot.com The Londoneer
    It dawned on me about an hour after leaving the film that maybe the story I thought I had just seen wasn't the real one - what if there are only two real people in the film (+ possibly Michael Caine), the dreamer and the architect, and the problem they are trying to solve is not the one we see onscreen for most of the movie? I daren't say anything more for spoiling those who haven't seen it yet...
  • Hairu
    #48 is an idiot, who spent some time proving that with his post above. In relation to the actual topic this movie ruined summer for me, anything that comes out after is going to have a hard time achieving tha same kind of emotion, thought and energy that Inception brought out in me. It was truly the only movie where I was audible when the credits began to roll with a triumphant "Yes! This is how movies are made" at the end. I loved it to say the least.
  • http://thebizthoughts.com Bizy Though
    A really mind twisting film, Leonardo played it very well! Two Thumbs Up on this movie..
  • http://www.wickedtickets4sale.com Sarah@Wicked Tickets Broadway
    This movie is too good and too long although it is not as long as it seems when you see it! :)

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