Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception


I was looking forward to Inception for quite a long time. What's not to like? Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cillian Murphy, all directed by Christopher Nolan? C'mon. As expected, the movie was a fantastic one, although it is not without it's flaws. Instead of attempting to interpret the film, which would take many long nights of research, coffee, and multiple viewings, I'm just going to tell you why I liked it.  Once again, Nolan gets a thumb up his originality in storytelling; the "dream within a dream within a dream" sequence just isn't something that has been done before. The final act consists of 45 minutes of screen time, and it never bores you for a second; not only is it nearly non-stop action, there are three different scenes going on at the same time, continuously cutting back and forth, always making sure your eyes are glued to the screen. One of these scenes is a fight in the hallway of a hotel between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a nameless gangster, and being one of the most well shot scenes in the film, it is very mesmerizing to watch. Nolan basically attempts to defy all the laws of physics and give the audience the feel of the lack of gravity, and he is very successful. Also, it finally gives Gordon-Levitt the chance to be a badass.


The first two acts however consist almost entirely of exposition and flashbacks. It takes a good hour or so for the audience to get a good grasp on just how this "very specific type of security" works. Even then, it is still very confusing, but just enough to understand what is going on. Nolan also uses this time to show off exactly what these dreamworlds are capable of, and stunning the audience in the process; not only because of the amazing special effects, but because of all the possibilities. And then we get to (literally) dive into the mind of Dom, who is played by DiCaprio. We learn exactly what it is that is driving him to perform this last job, and it is arguably Nolan's most emotional story arc to date. This has always been Nolan's one weakness, which shows in every one of his films: failing to fully get the audience to sympathize with the protagonist and his motives; at least on a romantic level. Fortunately, Inception shows that Nolan is only getting stronger and smarter, because it is definitely more of a tearjerker than his previous work. This is majorly thanks to Dom's love interest, Mal, who is impressively played by Marion Cotillard. In a familiar scent from DiCaprio's previous movie, Shutter Island, Dom mostly blames himself for his wife's death, and spends a tremendous amount of time attempting to cope. Also, when we learn about Mal's death, we also learn the serious dangers and potential consequences of "extraction" or "inception" of people's dreams if one isn't careful; which really, isn't too different from the use of drugs. One contributing effort to what makes the film flow as nice as it does is largely due to the editing; without it, Inception was in danger of being one giant, sloppy mess. It definitely takes an editor with talent to properly tell a mind-bender such as Inception. This is largely because of the final "3-scenes-in-1act, which in the wrong hands could have been absolutely disastrous and disappointing.Thankfully, he (Lee Smith) delivers. 

After watching Inception, my first thought after taking some Tylenol was that this film definitely isn't for everyone. But it looks like I might have been wrong. Surprisingly the film is getting a lot of praise. When I say "surprisingly" it's not because it isn't well deserved, but because the general public tends to be baffled by thinkers such as this one, and not in a good way. But for whatever reason, everyone is gobbling it up, and thank God. With the combination of a wonderful special effects, action, story, and all around acting, Inception is definitely a film that needs multiple viewings to fully understand what message the director is trying to get across to us, and just to understand the plot in general. This doesn't stop the audience however from knowing this is a very unique film in the sense that it will (probably) only get better after each viewing. My only hope is now that we've gotten all the exposition out of the way, the box office sales and word of mouth will lead to a sequel. Now that the audience has a good idea of exactly how "extracting" works (or at least they will when the film hits DVD), the potential is endless, and Nolan is only getting stronger and smarter.

Trailer