Jul 23, 2010

Movies: Inception

Let me start by saying that - yes - Inception is, without a shadow of doubt, the movie of the summer. It is also the movie of the year, unless some tremendous surprise occurs, which I find highly unlikely. It is also something unprecedented - a movie with all the markings of a summer blockbuster, which is none the less based on a very complicated idea and presents an intelligent treatment of it.

The story is set in our time, but with a twist: the technology exist to enter and construct other people's dreams. Specially trained thieves called Extractors use it for industrial espionage, and there are those whose subconscious is trained to resist them. Cobb (DiCaprio) is the best Extractor in the world. A man with troubled past and loose grasp on reality, he is running from a powerful corporation after botching a job, when he receives a proposition that could potentially untangle the mess he's made of his life. But the new assignment is the complete opposite of what he does - instead of extracting an idea, he is hired to make an Inception - to plant a new idea into the mind of the subject.

Inception is a mind-twisting ride in the spirit of Philip K. Dick, and one which - just like Dick's best novels - leaves a lot of room for interpretation, especially where its ambiguous finale is concerned. Nolan's treatment of his own script is cold and almost clinical, while characters outside Cobb are given very little development (presumably on purpose). Still, there is none that rings hollow - from pragmatic and cautious Point Man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and sarcastic easygoing Forger Eames (Tom Hardy) to caring and curious Architect Ariadne (Ellen Page) they are all believable and well constructed, not to mention that all the actors are supreme in their roles.

Visually, the movie is a blast. Unfortunately, the physics-defying fun is nowhere near as much as we could've hoped for, and really, most of it was on the trailers. Still, the cold blue-gray-brown palette that permeates the whole of Inception builds a powerful atmosphere, and some of the locations - like Cobb and Mal's limbo city for example - are mind-blowing.

Inception being what it is - a summer blockbuster - it is chock-full of greatly varied action. There are car-chases, and there are shootings, fist-fights and zero-gravity grappling. There is even a Call of Duty-esque snowy mountain war sequence.

But the movie's greatest strength remains its script. The story is never boring, never slows down and never fails to present a new element. The ending feels almost a cliffhanger, until you realize that Inception has been feeding you a steady stream of clues since the very start. That makes for an exciting second viewing, and - the script being the perfect construct that it is - a third one that is just as good.

I hate the "if you watch/read one thing this year" line, but this is a rare case where it is actually appropriate. Because in the unnaturally weak Summer season that we've had this year, Inception is the only movie worth watching. And if you are even a little into SF, there is no way you're going to miss it. My advice is only this - watch carefully, listen carefully... and then do it all over again!


1 comment:

  1. I was wondering about this film - should I, shouldn't I - so thank you for the review, for I am wondering no more :)