If it's crap ... We'll tell you
It’s common knowledge that we’ve been plagued this summer with films that range from uneventful to downright awful (with the exception of two or three), which couldn’t have been a better time for Christopher Nolan to release his newest, most original film he’s made to date, not to mention the most original film of the past few years.
Inception deals with the concept of sharing dreams with Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, a conman who enters the dreams of others and steals ideas from their subconscious (known as “extraction”) for unknown employers. After a lengthy career in dream thefts and being away from his family, Cobb is offered a job of the seemingly-impossible task of “inception,” the crime of implanting an idea instead of stealing one, and he assembles a crew (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Wantanbe, Ellen Page, and Dileep Rao) to pull off the perfect crime with hopes of being able to return home.
First off, this film is visually brilliant. I had very lofty expectations for this film, and the visual aspect at least met those expectations. From the opening slow-motion shot of crashing waves, it’s clear that Nolan wanted to create gripping, surreal images to enhance the dream worlds the characters enter and teases us with how captivating the imagery will be later on, such as Paris folding in half and the 360 degree hallway, which was perfectly executed (more on that later). That scene in particular is proves that Nolan is far better than any dime-a-dozen action director who would’ve lazily pissed on a scene like that with CGI. Also, I love the fact that much of the film was on-location, which is ironic consider what the film is about. I never really mind about where a movie is filmed as long as it’s obviously green screen or half-assed backdrops, but filming on-location is always that tiny little detail that bumps up any movie for me a few more points.
I really dug the plot of the film, even though it got a little overshadowed by the concept of dreamscaping whenever the rules were being explained. I didn’t mind that because I thought the rules were actually interesting, and they also simultaneously developed some of the characters in regards to following and breaking those rules. The pacing of the plot felt a little jumpy at the beginning, but once the groundwork was set for the world that Nolan created, everything smoothed out, even in moments of dialogue and slow-motion scenes where the tension kept the movie from shifting down a gear.
I do have to say I was a little disappointed in the cast, but mainly because my expectations were way to high. You look at the cast and you see how stacked this film is with talent. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, MICHAEL CAINE!!! It’s the kind of cast a sci-fi Ocean’s Eleven would’ve had. DiCaprio is really good, as always, and I like seeing Ellen Page play someone other than a smart-ass teen and bring some more heart into her acting. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fine as DiCaprio’s right hand man, but I found his stuntwork in the hallway fight scene better than his overall performance. My favorite of the supporting cast being Tom Hardy. The little moments he has with Gordon-Levitt’s character are really amusing, but he also had a badass demeanor that he never really got to demonstrate, much like much of the other cast. They don’t have enough in their roles to show how great they are or how great they can really be. As I watched, the supporting cast had this air about them that made me feel like they were itching to show off their full potential, and considering that this is a Nolan film and he strives for great acting, I kept waiting for that moment to come. I know I’m nitpicking a little bit about this, and I did not hate the acting. I really liked the performances; I just expected more.
The action scenes were also very good. They were more stylized and tense than bombastic, something along the lines of James Bond, where Nolan obviously draws inspiration from, and I thought that it worked perfectly well for a film with this kind of concept. The tense situations the characters get into toy with the minds of the audiences without throwing them out of the film, and when bullets and fists start flying, you get treated to some of the most unique action scenes. I’ve already said this, and I’ll say it again, but the hallway fight was just fantastic. It was such an innovative way to pit two or more people together in a fist fight and I can’t see any other action director do this without CGI. I’m sure they’ll try after this.
Overall, Inception is brilliant, another great achievement by Nolan. I guess my biggest problem was I went into this screening with astronomical expectations with such a cast, but that doesn’t change the fact that I will see this film again. This is filmmaking at its finest, and it will certainly liven things up in a summer full of duds. The visuals, the action, the story, the cast; all mesh together in fine form to create a film that breaks the trend of Hollywood’s assembly-line films with an original take on a familiar concept. Maybe it will even show Hollywood that it needs to start giving more original scripts a chance instead of dumping out sequels, prequels, or anything based on a some property.