Inception Review

Posted on July 25, 2010 by

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It’s very rare that I accuse a movie of being too smart. I will accuse them of being stupid, or being hard to follow, which I maintain is not a result of being too smart, but of being stupid and just seeming smart. A smart film does not break you from the illusion and force you to work out just what in the nine hells is going on.

It would be hard for me to describe Inception without calling it smart. It would be impossible to describe it without mentioning the Matrix. But I’m not going to talk about Inception in regards to any perceived similarities with the Matix, because frankly it has more in common with eXisentZ. But it has done something the Matrix also did, and what I think is probably the most important thing about both films. It changed the way I see cinema. Not like, a lot, but a little. Like a hint of the future.

Of course, the Matrix was over ten years ago (god, I feel old), and Inception is now. So, what is Inception?

The title itself refers to the act of implanting an idea into someone’s mind via the medium of dreams (How the ‘going into other people’s dreams’ thing works is never quite explained, and I like it that way). This, like several other things in the movie, is instantly dismissed as ‘impossible’. So naturally of course it can actually be done.  Dom Cobb (Leo DeCaprio- Our hero, folks) is offered protection from some nasty people by a powerful businessman, who wants to hire him to Incept a dodgy business plan into the head of Cillian Murphey (who spends a lot of time with a bag over his head. I suspect he grew to like wearing a bag so much after being in Batman). Cobb is traditionally more used to performing extractions, basically stealing information from people inside their dreams, but agrees to try in return for being allowed to return to America and see his kiddies.

Cobb proceeds to assemble a whos-who of everyone of Christopher Nolan’s speed-dial, getting Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd rock from the sun, 500 days of summer) as his partner and straight man (£50 says he’s in this to warm up for being the Riddler in the next Batman flick Nolan does), delicious waif Ellen page (Juno, Hard Candy) as his architect (Would make a good Harley Quinn…), team snarker and in-drema shapeshifter Tom Hardy (The new Mad Max), Dileep Rao (Drag me to hell) as their chemist. Oh, and Michael Caine has a few cameos, too, but you knew that.

In many ways the basic premise is that of a science-fiction heist movie in reverse, but that’s not all there is to it. That’s just the support holding it all up- when the heist proper begins, you get dreams within dreams, time dilation, zero-gravity combat, and crazed manifestations of the characters own subconscious.

Things proceed to get really metaphysical here, too. To wake up from a dream, you either need to die (Which wakes you up) or get a ‘kick’, which is basically something that tells your body to get the hell up, like the feeling of falling. A warning comes just before the kick, in various forms. Most often in the movie it’s done with a section of ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ by Édith Piaf, which is played just before the credits finish, to kick the audience from the dream of the movie.

There’s not a lot else I can say about the story or characters without giving spoilers, and i’m doing my best here to only sprinkle you with facts you might have gleaned from trailers and whatnot. Suffice to say that this is one of the most intelligently, subtly plotted films I’ve seen in some time. This movie has been simminering nicely in the back of Nolan’s head for nearly ten years, and it was worth every second.

The actors all do excellent jobs. No one felt out of place or wasted. If I had to have a complaint about Inception, it would be that towards the end, time for the audience seems to slow down to a crawl too, the climax seems to go on for a good while longer than we’re used to, but it is so worth it for every new second of the film. It doesn’t do a lot that’s new or original, but it subverts the need for that by taking all the old tricks and twisting them and turning them up to eleven.

See it. See it twice. This is one of the best films of the century (so far) and it would be an insult to intelligence and imagination and wonder if you weren’t there to see it before the internet spoiled the whole thing for you.

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Posted in: Movies