‘Inception’ is so utterly ridiculous in its ambition, so downright audacious in its premise and construction, that it’s shocking this storytelling
equivalent of a house of cards works at all. But it doesn’t just work. It excels.
Forget about films like ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Avatar,’ ‘Inception’ is the most incredible achievement in science fiction filmmaking (and in sci-fi
storytelling altogether) in memory.
Christopher Nolan, who has become a one-man Pixar with his current string of brilliant films, both wrote and directed the film. And if he was
lacking at all in either area, this project would have been a disaster.
Nolan’s screenplay is so immaculately crafted and his direction so focused that we have (relatively) little problem following one of the most
elaborately constructed final acts you’ll ever experience.
In the world of ‘Inception,’ your dreams can be invaded to uncover your deepest secrets. Apparently it’s not even that uncommon, as some
even have mental barriers in place to prevent the leaking of sensitive information.
Much more difficult is the act of inception, which implants a new idea inside the subject’s head.
The actual inception sequence involves so many different layers (dreams, dreams of dreams, altering time flows) that it’s downright
overwhelming. And this is where the director Nolan matches the writer Nolan.
Despite the filmic Jenga puzzle the screenplay lays out, Nolan is able to present it in a way that is just comprehensible enough for us to go
along with, while keeping it complicated enough that we have almost no idea where it’s going.
Go along for the ride or your head might just explode.
Nolan has clearly come a long way since his spastic action sequences from ‘Batman Begins.’ He intertwines plot points, brilliant action and
superb visual effects in the natural fashion that only a director at the absolute top of his game can.
There is a jaw-dropping fight inside a high-rise while a dream collapses, causing the gravity to shift constantly.
Even before the incredible inception sequence, the film does a great job setting up its concepts and laying down its logic without obvious
or tiring exposition.
It does it so well that there is surprisingly little explaining to be done when things really get going.
Perhaps the largest shortcoming is that the characters take a back seat to the plot. As technically brilliant as his films have been, Nolan has
never directed a story with much of an emotional, human impact. ‘Inception’ tries, but only partly succeeds.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is the heart of the film, and while his back-story is certainly a valuable aspect of the film, I never felt the true
swell of emotion that I think was the intention as the film reaches its conclusion.
DiCaprio’s performance is excellent (even without an accent!), and the rest of the cast is superb as well.
But even if the film doesn’t quite have the heart that it goes for, it’s just too intensely entertaining and too damn creative to hold against it.
‘Inception’ challenges its audience with an incredibly complex plot and rewards them with a completely satisfying and unforgettable
Christopher Nolan has solidified himself as one of the most talented current filmmakers, and ‘Inception’ is arguably his best work.
If you like mind-bending storylines and ingenious visuals, you simply must see ‘Inception.’ And even if you don’t, see it anyway. You’ll be
seeing something you have never seen before.
* * * *
(out of four)
Written and Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy,
Marion Cotillard, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas, Michael
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Released: July 16, 2010; 148 Minutes