This is the one we’ve been waiting for. They’ve kept Inception the biggest secret of the year, so now we finally get to see what the big deal was. It turns out it’s a rather solid genre movie. Maybe the biggest surprise is there is no surprise. It’s just a movie that tells its story and hasn’t given all the money shots away.
The dream logic is intuitive without blatantly explaining every little detail. Things change instantly, like in those dreams you can’t keep track of, but they follow some real physics so we sort of identify it as not a total fantasy land. I love the idea of the enemies you face in someone’s subconscious. An interesting idea is that you would make different decisions in a dream world, but they’re still logical decisions based on what’s possible here. I’m not sure it really continues after the first act, but I love the idea of taking new rules into account and still making the right call.
The structure of the movie is perfect. That’s where Christopher Nolan is a master of story. The film truly explains all the science fiction in an engaging way. The business of dreams and the procedure of manipulating them are cool. The recruiting of a team with various tests and training is cool. The heist planning is cool. An hour into the movie, you’re in the dream and it’s on, the stakes are set. I wish they hadn’t gone with flashback structure. I don’t think it ever really helps a film to start with a flashback to earlier and catch up. I guess it’s a challenge for people to guess how it gets there but I think it would be more effective to reveal this story in chronological order.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a good action hero. Cobb is on one last job and has some traumatic backstory to deal with, so they’ve created a big movie with a genre hero. The story itself is intriguing with the levels of dreams and how external events work their ways into the dream world. The payoff may be predictable but it’s hard for me to tell. I study this stuff daily. Maybe it was just a lucky guess. The real world power Ken Watanabe’s character promises to wield begs a lot of questions and that’s never explained, but I guess that’s the Maguffin.
I was disappointed that so much of the film was shot with shaky handheld cameras. I thought Nolan was one of the holdouts for carefully planning shots and conveying the elements of an action scene. Some of the really cool stuff is visually incomprehensible. If the excuse for shaky cam is that it’s “realistic” (which it’s not anyway), then what’s the excuse for filming a dream that way? To make it disorienting? I’m sorry, if your dream world just looks like a <B>Bourne</B> movie, that won’t sell me.
The tilted fight is cool but this is not the tilting Matrix fight movie. They go to some epic locations, but since it’s all in a dream, they manage to make it feel confined. I did love the music. It’s another Hans Zimmer score you can listen to entirely on its own. In the car, it’s its own piece but it conveys the entire movie.
I didn’t get my mind blown by Inception but I enjoyed it. I mean, it’s no Total Recall but I saw Total Recall when I was 12 (although thinking about it still blows my mind. How can his old personality demand his new personality give itself up? They can’t both be in the same body!) I’ll probably watch Inception again.