Inception (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
16Jul/101

Inception (2010)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTThe idea of a con game crossed with the dizzying possibilities of the dream world sounds like a perfect excuse for a mystery film; details dovetailing into tricks and slight is a recipe for a quick thinking thriller.

Instead, director Christopher Nolan has crafted a Matrix-esque action films that is dreary experience of unbelievable length. Exposition, explanations, explosions, gunfire, exposition, some more explanations, a tense moment where everyone looks really nervous before attempting something that is impossible, and a bit more explanation-- that is the unwieldy pattern Inception drags you through for 150 minutes.

Tracing out the plot for Inception risks giving too much away; I went in without having seen a trailer but had the ending of the film figured out before the first act was through. It's tempting to say it's not a plot heavy film, but a detail heavy one; there are rules to the dream worlds, rules upon rules, and rules that there rules about creating rules for. It's a safe assumption that Nolan has seen his fair share of movies from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, though at least those films don't try and pretend there's some deeper philosophy contained within.

The rule making fills up the first hour of the film easily, and makes it especially frustrating when you slowly find yourself picking apart holes during the last 90 minutes-- you've had those rules driven in so relentlessly you don't want to tear them apart.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who won some sort of lucky break this year as he gets to reprise his role from Shutter Island down to the motivation without having to continue with his horrible Bostonian accent. While Shutter Island also dealt with a mystery any viewer can dissect handily, Scorsese's use of CGI is far superior and a case study of less being more.

That axiom doesn't have any place in Inception though, as you continue down the character list and find yourself hardly remembering character names let alone traits. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the sidekick, Ellen Page is the sensitive woman, Tom Hardy as the wise cracker, Dileep Rao as the exotic Indian guy who knows much of potions and other magic that the white man does not, and Michael Caine plays Michael Caine to round things out.

Caine's making a footnote in his career out of small parts in Nolan films, as he's been in The Prestige and recently Nolan's Batman entries. Last year's The Dark Knight, which contained reflections on the nature of anarchy and the underlying need for one to do evil in order to protect the image of good, was an interesting infusion of comic book philosophy. Inception doesn't contain ideas, per say, but platitudes to ideas. Saying things like "ideas are like viruses" and portraying the same inane debate between dreams and reality that's been similarly covered in the last hundred years of cinema offers nothing for nourish the viewer in between the exposition, explosions, CGI, and droning background music.

The soundtrack for this film, it must be noted, is a thing of appalling beauty. You can actually sing along to most of it with the lyrics "TEN-SION HOOK, TEN-SION HOOK, TENSION HOOOOOOOK..." until you get sick of doing so. Occasionally you will get a droning "WOM WOM WOM" in case you were trying to pay attention to the dialogue, and I can't imagine anyone seriously still trying to do that after the first hour or so.

There are rare moments in the film which are fantastic, which is a pity considering their surroundings. Gordon-Levitt has one impressive action sequence (and the film's only impressive action sequence out of countless others) set in a hotel room hallway that spins in ways that Fred Astaire could only dream of. Cillian Murphy, as the victim of one of the con jobs, creates more empathy in his few scenes that DiCaprio can with the rest of the film. Ellen Page's first chance at designing her own dream world is a dizzying sequence visually, but really speaks to just how half baked her character becomes as she never displays an ounce of imagination in the rest of the entire film.

As I said before, the movie is mostly an inconsequential venue for gunfire and explosions. The final shot of this film is completely predictable by the end of the first act. I'm sure there are clues to the mediocre mystery it left in its wake, but, like a lot of movies that leave an open ending, whether or not the mystery is actually worth debating must be considered.

Inception (2010)

This film (IMDB) is currently playing in theaters.

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ken Watanabe

Posted by Danny

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  1. I really dug this film but my one nitpick of the film was that DiCaprio seemed to be playing the same character as from SHutter Island. I am glad I am not the only one who saw this. It is unfortunate those two movies came out so close together.


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