July 18, 2010

Inception

A few people are interested in this film, so I figured I would pen a quick review of Inception. It's one of those films that makes it tough to say too much about, but I promise to be careful.

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a special kind of freelance agent; he has learned enough about people's minds so that he now has the ability to enter their dreams and learn their most valuable secrets. This skill is called "extraction." However, his own secrets are kept closely guarded even from his closest associates.

It is these associates whom he must convince to help him pull off a new job, one that will not only bring them wealth but will help Cobb deal with some trouble from his past. And convince them he does. Soon he has assembled a team to perform a daring feat that none of them are sure is even possible: "inception." That would be the placing of a thought into someone else's mind in such a way that they believe it is their own idea.

This quickly becomes a science fiction mystery film wrapped neatly into the trope of a heist film. With a bit of a con job thrown in, the fast pace keeps you from dwelling too long on the details. It's safe to say you will see bits and pieces of all your favorite films and genres here, because Christopher Nolan borrows heavily, but he's taken these elements apart and rearranged them. Ghost story? It's in there!

Ariadne (Ellen Page) is the new recruit on the team, a hotshot dream architect who acts as the audience's way in to the complex maze of Cobb's own mind, which might be just as challenging to unravel as how our heroes can succeed in their plan as things (inevitably) begin to go wrong. Her curiosity forces us deeper into Cobb's own story (which he actually seems to give up a bit too willingly, one of the forgivable flaws in my opinion). As Ariadne wonders whether they're even safe on Cobb's journey, we simultaneously wonder where he's taking all of us.

Inception reminds us that when Christopher Nolan isn't making movies about the Batman, he likes to mess with our minds. In this film, he's mixed taut action sequences with unsubtle psychological gymnastics in an attempt to give us everything at once. It's an enjoyable effort, if a bit messy at times. But Mr. Nolan probably doesn't want us to come away with too neat a view of this world he has constructed; he's left us to fill some of it with the projections from our own dreams.

Posted by James at July 18, 2010 10:42 PM
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Comments

I do think programmers will be slightly annoyed at the oversimplification of the idea of world building, but maybe not. That aggravated me, especially the "test." I have lucid dreams, so this film is basically my worst nightmare, what I imagine dementia is like -- being awake but dreaming, not being able to distinguish reality from dream, worrying about being able to wake yourself out of a nightmare. I saw Total Recall and the Matrix in this movie, but I thought it was unique enough and well done that I enjoyed it. I don't want to see it again, though. I do like Christopher Nolan, if you liked Batman, you might just like watching his direction again.

Posted by: Maggie at July 18, 2010 11:48 PM

I think Nolan consciously wanted to avoid making this Matrix 4 by steering away from any superpowers. And he had a halfway decent reason for it inside the context of the film.

It was a good move, because it steered the action away from unbelievable back to high(ish) stakes.

Posted by: James at July 18, 2010 11:52 PM

Based on the ad, I wasn't sure if I was interested in this movie or not. Your review makes it sound more intriguing.

Posted by: Julie at July 19, 2010 8:33 AM

Julie,
I KNEW I didn't want to see it from the trailer. It wasn't as bad or stupid as the trailer makes it look.

Posted by: Maggie at July 19, 2010 9:54 PM

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