Monday Movie: Inception by @cartoonbeardy

At one point during a particularly circuitous monologue by Leonardo DiCaprio's protagonist, Dom Cobb, in Inception; it is posited that the assertion that the single, most-dangerous and resilient virus on the planet is a single idea. Were we talking about anything other than movies, this reviewer would be inclined to agree with Cobb. However, seeing as we are talking about that business called show, the truth of the matter is that the most dangerous thing in the world for films is the word hyperbole.

It's a word well known to Inception's writer/director Christopher Nolan since his last film, the gargantuan blockbuster, The Dark Knight blew away many audiences who hailed the film as a genuine masterpiece. The veracity of such claims has since been the basis of many a film nerd pub night; however, what it did do was draw exceptional scrutiny on Inception. Would it live up to expectations and the hype, projected upon it by millions of Dark Knight fans hungry for their next fix? Hit the jump to find out:
Inception tells the story of Cobb, who, along with his point man and brains of his operation, Arthur, played with cool detachment by Brick's Joseph Gordon-Levitt, extract secrets from the minds of sleeping victims by entering their dreams, which is when the mind is most vulnerable. Both Cobb and Arthur perform these extractions for unscrupulous corporations, gleaning secrets from business rivals.

When one extraction goes wrong, the pair find themselves drawn into a Faustian pact with previous mark, Ken Watanabe, who, in exchange for their freedom, wants the pair to perform an inception (the planting of an idea rather than extraction of one) on rival corporate heir-apparent, Cillian Murphy, something believed impossible to do. Therefore, the dreamic duo must set about in true heist movie fashion, assembling their team of experts to perform the impossible job.

Keeping up? Don't worry, you'll love it anyway.
Beyond the SF trappings of dream walking and the technology involved, Inception is, on the surface, a true, old-fashioned heist movie. Take away the names and the idea of a team drawn into a seemingly-impossible job against their will by a previous target, could easily sound like an escapade of Danny Ocean and his crew. Yet, as with everything in Inception, nothing is as superficial as it initially seems.

This is a film of layers, both physically and metaphorically, with every event and action peeling back and showing more information below. While the majority of the film is centred squarely on the task, the true story and emotional heartbeat of the film resides with DiCaprio's damaged-goods character, who’s past is filled with guilt and remorse that manifests physically in the dream world threatening to overwhelm him and his team. To reveal more of the story is to rob it of its power and impact, but suffice to say that, at its core, away from the audacious set pieces, incredible concept and jaw-dropping visuals, this is a deeply-personal, small, emotional tale.
The director weaves a complex narrative with style and he's never been better. Many of his critics have levelled the accusation that Nolan's films can seem emotionally cold and distant, but this film's initially-cold exterior gives way to a surprisingly-touching and, come the final moments, resonant piece.

 The acting is worthy of note on every level: DiCaprio shines, fleshing out what could have easily been a one-note character with a subtle and nuanced performance. He's ably supported by Gordon-Levitt, who also acts as straight man to Shinzon of Remus himself, Tom Hardy’s comedic foil and team forger. The rest of the cast, from Ellen Page through to a surprisingly-solid performance by Tom Berrenger, all interact well. Nolan never lets any of the narrative threads of any of the characters fall by the wayside and is repaid handsomely with performances that are believable and support the multi-threaded/multi-layered plot.
Beyond the human element, its interesting to note that the superbly-executed visual effects, given so much screen time in the trailers, are not the be-all and end-all of this summer blockbuster. Its refreshing to see a director finally realise that effects are a tool to support a story rather than the reason for seeing a film.

While the easy touchstone here is The Matrix, Inception's only comparative element is the fact that it can comfortably be called a “game changer”. The set pieces and bravura action; especially the final third of the film, which is a mind-bending, multi-dimensional, multi-planar sequence, might superficially evoke the Wachowskis. However, Inception’s narrative depth sets it a quantum leap ahead with Nolan demanding the audiences’ undivided attention. It is an audacious move in a climate where most blockbusters rely on spectacle, the occasional one-liner and a “leave your brain at the door” attitude. Inception is a stark contrast to every major Hollywood film this year; a sophisticated, intelligent, high-concept movie, with a watertight script and story that will reward upon multiple viewings (almost, one or two plot holes - Ed).

Overall, Inception is a film that you can comfortably recommended to anyone who wants to see a truly-different, outstandingly-conceived and brilliantly-executed movie produced by a team that, on every level, is operating at the top of their game.

Hyperbole may well be the most insidious of viruses in Hollywood, however, Inception defies the odds and justifies its plaudits. It is a rare film; to which, for once, the word masterpiece is genuinely applicable.
See it.


  1. I loved this film, even though it sagged in the part where Cobb was talking about his wife (I think; I fell asleep, ironically enough). Cillian Murphy seemed like a blank, pretty canvas, and nothing more.

    Those gripes aside, what a movie! You could tell that love went into the details; the setup and eventual payoff off the 'kicks' set in motion had the perfect level of tension. Lovely, too, was the wardrobe, the cinematography, the fight choreography (in the hotel) and the acting.

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt was my favourite cast member - he's much like Keanu Reeves, except he can act.

    Someone said this film was an action blockbuster wrapped in an arthouse film, and they'd be right. I thought the the dialogue stayed enough on the right side of expository to make the audience feel they were being shown, not spoonfed, the concept of the story.

    Really nice work all round. I hope they don't spoil it by making a sequel and going all Matrix-Pseud's-corner on us.

  2. cool action movie ^^. Like this!