Tuesday 13 July 2010

Review: Inception

Year: 2010
Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joesph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cilian Murphy, Marion Cotillard

Synopsis would ruin the fun.

Well what can I say? I'll be blunt: A film like this reminds me that it's worth wading through the all the crap (I'm looking at you Legion) to get something so rewarding. A film like this is one that I asked to watch again straight after watching it. Bloggers like myself moan and complain about lack of creativity. Reviewers like me bitch about reboots, sequels and the rest of them. Filmmakers like Christopher Nolan seem to be born to slap us around the face and tell us to shut the fuck up. What we have here is what self-important attention seeking twats like me want; the holy grail itself, the intelligent blockbuster.

I loved Inception, truly savored every moment. I found myself completely engrossed the films narrative. Completely wrapped up in every shot, every moment, every detail. Gushing? Just a little but I feel I have to. This is a film that has enough ideas to greenlight ten lesser films, you could create movies based on just one of the characters alone. I spoke to a work colleague about the film afterwards who claimed the film isn't as clever as it thinks it is. I disagree. To craft something as fresh and creative as this, while keeping it as accessible is where the smarts lie. It doesn't talk down to you just because it's a blockbuster, although it's a film that requires attention. There is a lot of information to take in (especially in the films first half) but to make it so engaging, keeping track of the spectacle is what made the film so special for me. It's a sign of a commercial director hitting a peak of his craft.

Early reviews look set to be calling this the next Matrix, however to me, Inception owes much more to Alex Proyas' bewitching Dark City than anything the Wachowski brothers have come up with. If Dark City was the Noir, then Inception is the Heist movie, it's expressionistic dreamscapes and architecture not only had me fully absorbed into the world but slowly belie the emotions and mindstate of each sub-conscious we enter. While the Matrix's world (a well realised one) allows one or two characters to obtain a certain amount of power, Nolan's film suggests that every mind-state IS it's own Matrix with any character being able to become a commander. This idea allows Inception to have a scope as board as an imagination can be.

This is not to say that the film hasn't got rules, but Nolan incorporates the exposition wonderfully into the movie. Characters talk (often) about the worlds and how to intact within them, but the talk is always engaging, always appealing. We learn enough too whet our appetite about the construct but not too much that we spoke holes or become bored. With this said however it's not like the characters we watch would allow this to happen.

Like I said, this is a heist movie and Nolan creates heist characters that make Danny Ocean's team look like the fucking wombles. The arrogance they exude is only matched by the bubbling tension that lays within the job they have to do. All have their role to play (I LOVE the idea of the "forger") and everyone manages to put their own feel into their types. It's a great ensemble cast. Tom Hardy's Eames is a tough guy channeling Alan Rickman, Ellen Page's Ariadne once again highlights the young actress' ability to enhance female characters of purpose. Joesph Gordon Levitt meanwhile, plays the sidekick position of Arthur the way I would love Robin to be portrayed if he existed in Nolan's Gotham. Cilian Murphy may be the mark, however he helps ground the film along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard. I love the confidence man cool that this ensemble bring to the picture. I'm sure detractors will state that these characters are cold, but they have to be, otherwise their minds will quite literally ran away with them.

It is this conflict (carried with deceptive skill by DiCaprio) that weights the movie and gives it the emotional punch. DiCaprio's Cobb has once let the power of dreams and his sub-conscious overcome him and now it threatens to crush him once and for all. We watch as his projections and memories begin to bleed into the shared lucid dreams, taking over and corrupting the perfect "last job" has been set in play. His tense relationship with his wife Mal (Cotillard once again oozing screen presence) begins to bubble, and the themes of Insomnia and Memento appear (fractured memories, guilt), before Inception begins to cross into areas that films like Vanilla Sky and Shutter Island touched on. Nolan however, wishes to take it up a notch not only by balancing more than one consciousness, but by setting up layers of structure for the films rampant third act.

Borrowing liberally from one of the best Bonds (Hans Zimmers exhilarating score and snowy setting will fill you in) Nolan's climax is a superbly executed, multi-leveled piece of spectacle, combining not only the rules of the world but the emotional pull of DiCaprio's character as well just blowing stuff up...incredibility well. What was seen in the T.V spots and Trailers don't give the film justice. How Nolan brings it together, is not only exciting visually but compelling from a dramatic point of view. You want to know what happens next and you fear for what may happen to these people. How Nolan did this to me is deceptive. I honestly don't know how it unlocked it out of me, but by the films final ambiguous shot I was reeling.

After the end of the screen I had only one question to ask the people I watched it with: When can I see it again? It's visuals are stunning, it's themes are almost operatic, and it's spectacle is truly stimulating. A film I cannot wait to watch again, to pick it's brains, to observe it's beauty, to dissect it's narrative and digest it's themes fully. Hyperbole? Yes. I'm not ashamed to say it is. It's a movie that reminds me why I watch movies.