May 26, 2011

Rabid Rewind: "Inception"

starring: Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, and Cillian Murphy
written & directed by: Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros. (2010)

If you've seen Inception, chances are pretty good that you end up on one of two teams: Team Loved-It or Team Hated-It. Because, you either thought this was one of the trippiest, gamechanging-est pieces of cinema to come along in recent years. Or, you think this was one of the most convoluted, schizophrenic pieces of tripe to hit the screen since The Matrix sequels.

As for me, I am on Team Loved-It, but I recognize that writer/director Christopher Nolan used up a lot of capital with the loyalties of movie-goers with this movie. It's an alienating film, because it doesn't just demand your attention the whole way through, but it wags its finger at you if you so much as blink and lose your place in the story. I'm pretty sure I'm the last guy to get around to seeing this film, but just in case, I'll keep this spoiler free for anyone living in bunkers in Montana waiting for the Chinese to taker over--or President Obama to present his birth certificate. Those boys don't get out much.

Leo plays Dom Cobb, an extractor. He and his cohorts steal information from people, but they pilfer the information by breaking into the target's subconscious mind during a dreaming state, as a sci-fi version of corporate espionage. Think of him as a bank robber who breaks into dreams rather than banks. Then, they are tasked with planting an idea in someone's mind, rather than taking one away. A process called "inception" and is considered impossible, but Cobb believes he can do it. His motivation isn't purely for money though, as the corporate mogul who has hired his team (Watanabe) promises to get his criminal record cleared so he can return to the U.S. and be with his children again.

Leo's performance is engrossing, if also familiar, and offers up another tortured soul as the hero, which seems to be a pastiche with this guy. While he does good, and Ellen Page plays the role of a new recruit with a talent for constructing dreams quite well, it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt who steals the show in my opinion. On one hand, I marvel at how the kid from Third Rock from the Sun has turned into such a talented dramatic actor, and on the other hand I am befuddled how he is not Hollywood's new leading man.

The special effects are amazing, done so in such a way that the screen feels saturated with them at times. The last five years especially have seen some truly remarkable leaps forward in CGI melded with practical effects, so much so that it comes off as seamless, and it has a spoiling effect when watching other films. I recently watched Knight & Day, which is a prime example of how less than stellar CGI effects can suck you out of a movie. Inception has no such issues, and you wind up feeling at points like you've fallen down the rabbit hole right along with the characters.

I'm not equipped to dive into the nitty-gritty of the sci-fi elements in this movie, as I was just looking for a really good story. And I got it. I'm undecided if this is my favorite movie of 2010 now, but it's certainly in the running.


  1. I enjoyed Inception, and not just for the ridiculous special effects. The story had a nice pace--just right. The reveal unfolded well, too--no big information dump, but a natural flow.

    Did I believe any of the "science"? Not for a minute. But the power of storytelling propelled me, as it should.

  2. I didn't realise it was a Marmite film! I'm somewhere in the middle, I liked it enough to not get distracted halfway through but don't think it was amazing.