By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cottilard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.
“What does this movie mean? What is it about?” These are questions that when Inception was first released in 2010, always seemed to come up. After all, in the summer months, films are supposed to be ‘popcorn filled fun.’ Movies that are numbed and dumbed down for audiences to enjoy (Transformers) as opposed films that contain action and inspire audiences to think. This is just one of those films where every single frame and conversation within its entire 148 minute running time has meaning. And, while audiences were busy asking the questions, they were curious enough to come back, as this thing grossed over $825 million on its run in theaters. Is it worth it, or is it just one of those cases of a film that is overrated with no sense in trying to make sense of it, as writer/director Christopher Nolan undoubtedly has?
Folks, this is movie making at its finest. In fact, Inception is so good that I do not know where to begin. Let’s begin first with its cast. With Leonardo DiCaprio once again playing a man tortured by the death of his wife (much like Scorcese’s Shutter Island from earlier in the year), the ‘Cap does his duty, and does it well. While I would not say his performance is perfect, it definitely does its job in moving the story along and all the inner workings of what the action of inception entails are left to him to describe to Page’s character of Ariadne (a character that I feel represents us, the audience). Page does a fine job in her role, and it is her character that I latched onto the most. As she was undeniably fascinated by Cobb’s (DiCaprio) relationship with and utter downfall of his wife (Cotillard), while in the process making the job of architect in dreams second in nature to her fascination. Hardy (who has become everyones’ favorite star as of late) shows that he is best when in a supporting role. Yes, Nolan saw the film Bronson, which has Hardy in a lead role, and was so impressed with him that he put him in this film. But, while the man definitely has presence, I like him most as he is used here. A man who has the weaponry and occasional one liner, and acts as almost a sidekick (or, as Nolan will use him later on this year, Batman’s enemy).
While all of the performances (which include Murphy and Watanabe) are fantastic, I think the man who really comes into his own here is Levitt. Coming off the highly enjoyable (dramatic yet comedic) role in (500) Days of Summer, Levitt had not really been put in an action film before. Leave it up to Nolan to make me pay for my doubts, as not only does Levitt come off as the most endearing and intelligent of all Cobb’s men, he also has one of the coolest and creative looking action sequences I have seen for quite some time, spinning around and fighting on the ceiling.
Speaking of action, I feel this is where Nolan receives the most criticism. And, for the most part, I myself agree with it. Because, while he is great at building the suspense that surrounds the action, he still does not quite have a grasp on making action itself. With every brilliant conversion of his mind to screen like the ceiling sequence, Nolan also stages a James Bond-esque sequence in the snow. An action scene that really serves no purpose other than live his childhood dream of making a James Bond film, and with all the white suits & white guns shooting at one another, it kind of threw me off. Also, the storyline of Cobb and his wife’s constant life in limbo tended to drag, and did nothing for me emotionally. I know its purpose was to endear the viewer into the character of Cobb, but, if anything, it just showed more of the tortured soul that Cobb is. A set of circumstances and emotions that I already knew, and I found myself wanting the film to move along every single time they were onscreen (especially toward the end).
But, these are such small detriments to an otherwise perfect mind-meld of a heist movie. A movie where every single effect (fruit flying in slow motion from buildings, buildings folding over one another) serves a purpose. And a movie that, after not viewing it for more than a year, I noticed a few things I had not seen otherwise and turned into an almost new experience for me. What do those last frames, and the film in general, mean? Next time someone asks you that, just respond that you are in the hands of a master of his craft. A man who lets you come to your own conclusions. And, a man that, not only made the Batman franchise relevant again, brought the smart characterarized action film back to the summer. For these reasons, and these reasons alone, I would pay close attention to everything he lays his hands on. Because, in the confines of his mind, they can mean anything you want. And, that, my friends, is ingenious filmmaking at its finest.
4.5 out of 5