Friday, August 6, 2010

Inception Review

Mind-thrillers, or films which dance around an idea that we all have at one point or other in our lives, are often the most complex and most emotionally draining and intensive movies we can see. Inception is no exception, and if the trailers raving that it’s from Christopher Nolan mean anything, we know that seeing this film means watching perfection.

For Nolan, this means perfection to a fault.

Attempting to be this decade’s The Matrix, Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, a sort of industrial espionage agent working for a nameless mega-corporation to discover the secrets buried deep within the minds of the biggest corporate enemies. In his attempt to return to his children, Cobb embarks on a journey deeper into the mind than anyone has ever gone, doing something no one has ever done.

This film takes viewers on a sort of roller-coaster experience, doing its best to describe what we are capable of dreaming about. In this respect, Inception is stunted by, ironically enough, a general lack of imagination and interesting characters. While Nolan’s The Dark Knight raved fans with the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, no characters in Inception were captivating. Performances were fair enough, though possible rising star Ellen Page failed to provide any flair, instead playing the role of know-it-all psychologist.

The blandness of the characters, with the exception of the ever charming Ken Watanabe, is offset by visual spectacles and mental gymnastics that will cause any viewer to think through their own personal experience with dreams, and perhaps even judging reality. However, the dreams shown were nearly always drab, unremarkable segments that at the most resemble famous cityscapes. Some visual effects were exciting to witness, such as Escher's Infinite Stairs or seeing the world fold upon itself, with a ceiling another person’s floor. These unique designs are far too rare, and although clocking in at 2:28, I’d have liked to have seen more.

A tale of dream invasion, thought privacy and the power of the mind certainly resonates with today’s audiences, and indeed I expect some to come home to a sleepless night, pondering this film’s true meaning, coming to grips with reality as we see it. Therein lies the strength of Inception, driving home the idea, which like a virus that infects our very being, our dreams feel real until we wake up, and perhaps we’re all just dreaming right now, in this very instance, waiting to wake up.

Yet while Neo’s story gave us a bland hero in Keanu Reeves, it also gave us a great orator, tumbling us further down the rabbit hole with Laurence Fishburne. His speech of which pill to take, red or blue, was infinitely more memorable than any one scene in Inception, which ultimately leads us to its biggest flaw: in the end, no one will care. We may all question our sanity, but a few days after seeing the movie we’ll go back to our lives as if we’d never seen it. With no defining characters, no incredible moments, and only a clockwork, almost robotically made film, Inception left me feeling empty. An utter lack of humor, a general disregard for emotion and a cast equally limited makes Inception a mediocre film at best.