I don’t dream often. I just sleep. I like it this way. I don’t think I could live in the world that Inception takes place in. A not-so futuristic world where dreams are as vivid as reality and people willingly share REM sleep cycles. Along with the Brave New World of dreaming comes the darker side: extraction, where thieves like Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his crew can steal your thoughts and just maybe, plant one. Right away we’re dropped into Cobb’s world and are expected to suspend disbelief and hang on for the ride. Through exposition, it will all make sense later.
Inception is a very heavy flick. Two and a half hours of intense focus. There are moments of great action, amazing set pieces and a convoluted story that will take all of your energy to follow.
My biggest issue is how the film in being marketed. Studio executives have fucked us and pandered to the lowest common denominator. The trailer above is awesome. Suspenseful, an epic score, key pieces of dialogue about the plot–it’s built up to be a heist movie of grand proportions filled with great actors and non-stop action. However, as we see right from the opening scene, the movie isn’t linear. Be prepared to think and question. Inception is everything is promised to be, but with a whole lot more to sift through. And by the time everything starts to come together in your head, we’re already two hours in and the movie sprints to the finish line.
Leonardo DiCaprio may be the lead actor, but the star here is director Christopher Nolan. Slowly, over the past ten years, Nolan has become arguably the greatest filmmaker alive (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight). He expertly crafts scenes and visual effects. Everything is filmed on location and his signature style is stunning. As beautiful as Nolan’s dreamscapes are, I found the plot was weak and didn’t live up to other elements of the film. (A heavy dusting of The Matrix, no?) Really, it just gets so dense that it feels like more effort went into making the audience believe the concept of “inception,” than into making a compelling story around the concept. Layers upon layers upon layers. Necessary layers for everything to make sense, but layers regardless.
For such a grand idea, the simple notion that Dom needs to do “one more job” so he can get back to his family is as cliched as it gets. We’re supposed to be sympathetic to Dom, but his own selfish motivations prevent the viewer from really being invested in his quest. I much preferred the supporting cast; Aurthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Eames (Tom Hardy) are great sidekicks, and even Ellen Paige’s managed to make Ariadne likable and free of snark (a feat I never thought possible).
Inception is a unique film that will sit nicely in Nolan’s catalog, but simply, it’s too smart and complicated to be a summer blockbuster. It grossed about $60 million opening weekend, but
I’m not sure if it will have legs for the rest of summer. Inception is very solid though, probably one of the best films that will be released this year. Don’t be scared away. It’s good when a film makes you think, no matter what your opinion is.