Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie with Abe: Inception

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Released July 16, 2010

Messing with the mind is a dangerous business. That’s doubly true for director Christopher Nolan’s latest film, “Inception,” which tinkers not only with the psyches of its characters but also pushes the mental capabilities of its audience to comprehend its extremely layered and complex plot. A major part of the experience of watching the film is deciphering its many mysteries and piecing together the pieces to form a cohesive and coherent whole, and there’s a feeling of satisfaction that comes with the eventual realization that the puzzle has been solved and the movie might actually make some sense, provided a viewer is up to and capable of completing the task.

Disregarding his two enormously popular Batman entries, “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan is known for films that take much of their run time to fully comprehend exactly what’s going on. That’s certainly true of Nolan’s breakout, Oscar-nominated 2001 film “Memento,” and also of his 2006 magician movie “The Prestige.” Unlike with M. Night Shyamalan’s films, audiences haven’t grown tired of the big reveals. Nolan’s newest film take things to a whole new level, compounding and confounding ideas in a way that initially seems impenetrable but slowly unravels to become more accessible. Nolan, who wrote and directed the film, goes for the fantastical and weaves an extraordinarily intricate and excessively engaging story to be deciphered by his audience.

“Inception” succeeds in many ways, and perhaps its best asset is its pacing. The 148-minute film doesn’t waste time building up and developing its plot; instead it features its main character on the run in a frantic and thrilling chase scene and then dives right in to the core story of the film. It’s a risky gamble that pays off, unless viewers are so dizzy and upset with their lack of comprehension. By the time the action really kicks into gear, however, things actually start making sense, and understanding what’s going on is just as exciting and fun as not having a clue.

The film is ultimately an extremely smart and well-developed science fiction film that invests just as much in characters as it does in story. An entertaining and impressive team of people are assembled to help Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb plan his expedition into a target’s mind to infiltrate his dreams. This colorful bunch includes a host of talented actors, including DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, and Ken Watanabe. Acting is hardly important in this film, yet having good actors on hand is always a positive. Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine are also present in crucial supporting roles, and the strong performances enhance the film considerably.

What makes “Inception” worthwhile in the end is the thrill ride on which it takes viewers for two and a half hours. Assembling it, both creatively and visually, must have been quite a feat, and taking it back apart as the audience gets a chance to unpack is equally mesmerizing and frustrating. The action will have science fiction fanatics and everyday moviegoers alike enthralled, and the effects and cinematography are dazzling. This is one very slick adventure ride that may have audiences scratching their heads but definitely won’t have them checking their watches.



Greg Boyd said...

Good review, but what were your complaints. You must have had a few, or this would have gotten an A or A-.

I personally found it brilliant, in spite of a slightly slow middle section. The entire heist sequence was just magnificent (although I didn't entirely care for some of the stuff in the snow section). Nonetheless, I loved it.

Movies with Abe said...

I'm not sure I have any complaints necessarily. Sometimes a movie just doesn't wow me THAT much, and therefore it only gets a B+ or an A-. On a repeat viewing, I might give this one a higher grade, but I doubt I'll be watching it again anytime soon simply because there's so much out there to see!

Aaron said...

ok, so i just realized i haven't checked your blog in a while and so i did, and i read this post, so here are my thoughts. First of all i have to disagree with your characterization of this movie as a science fiction adventure/action movie. Though i agree there was a lot of action in this film. I think you risk having it compared to movies like "live free die hard" if you characterize it as action. I agree with your rating though i might go A-. and for the same reason, that i can't pinpoint exactly what was bad.
overall great post though i wish you would spend more time deconstructing the plot. cuz thats where it gets sticky.

Movies with Abe said...

Aaron, thanks for your comment. I'll ask first off if you're saying that a comparison to "Live Free or Die Hard" is a bad thing? (My positive review here: http://movieswithabe.com/2007/07/action-packed-live-free-or-die-hard.html)

As far as deconstructing the plot goes, I like to avoid any sort of spoilers in my reviews for those who haven't seen it, but I would be happy to discuss with you in person. Also, I'll admit I'm still a little confused by some elements of the plot. Worth a discussion, though, and we'll certainly talk when next we cross paths.