July 19, 2010

REVIEW: Inception

Many newspapers reviewers have said that Christopher Nolan's Inception is too "complicated" when in reality, it is just complicated enough. Movies today, it seems, cater to the absolute lowest common intellectual denominator with nothing but cute animals, tired jokes, and fluffy plots. When Academy Award-Winning actress Penélope Cruz's most commercially successful movie is G-Force, a movie about secret agent guinea pigs, something is wrong with the world. The success of Inception just might make it right again.

If you've read my past reviews, you'll know that I place a strong emphasis on the plots of movies. What are movies but stories? -- stories that allow us to explore areas connected to, but just beyond, the human experience? That's why I loved Inception.

The story centers around Cobb, an "extraction" specialist, who uses a Matrix-like artificial reality network machine to infiltrate people's dreams and steal their deepest, most profitable secrets. In his crew are an architect who designs the 'levels' where the dreams take place, an impersonation expert who acts out characters int he dream, a chemist who develops drugs to sedate his targets, and various other dream-bandits. Cobb's greatest challenge, and the movie's focus, comes when a businessman offers to clear Cobb's troubled background in exchange for planting an advantageous idea in the businessman's rival's head.

What follows is an elaborate backwards-bank-heist that delves into dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams and questions the nature of experienced reality. Guns are blazing, and cars are screeching as projections of one mind battle others. Much of the pleasure I got out of the film was in exploring the 'rules' of the inception universe (which are periodically introduced) and following as they are applied within the various levels of simultaneous existence experienced in the characters' minds. I found a couple problem with the 'kick' system in that 'kicks' are used in the deepest level of dreaming, even though the are suppose to be used in one level to wake from a deeper one and in spite of the issues regarding limbo and death.

All of the cast are particularly exceptional in their roles, including Ellen Page, who I've not really enjoyed in previous works. It would not surprise me if DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for his complex role (though I'll wait to see the other nominees before I start betting) despite it's similarities to the mentally twisted character he played in Shutter Island.

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  1. Chris Kendig5:44 AM

    I was going to recommend this movie to you, but I see you were already on top of it. I couldn't agree more with your review...the movie was complex, engaging, and beautifully executed. I think it's greatest strength was the fact that it pulled you in by your brain, a rare feat in times when movies usually rely on your heartstrings, funny bone, or baser instincts.

  2. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I loved "Dark Knight" and I think Nolan has done it again. I really love his smart action movies and I'm glad someone tries to make them. Most actions movies (like Transformers 2) are just explosions and teenage hormones but Inception is mature and leaves you unraveling psychological puzzles. Ironically some critics don't appreciate this movie just because it is a action movie. But they're just being uppity and pretentious.