Sunday, 25 July 2010

Film Review: Inception

It's difficult to know where to begin when trying to describe Inception. It's kind of like, the Matrix meets Ocean's 11 meets Bond meets Memento. To sum it up in a word: Mindfuck.

It's difficult to summarise what is an absolutely ingenious plot. Cobb (DiCaprio) is a freelance corporate spy who specialises in a very unique type of security; the human mind. He and his colleagues have developed a technique through which they can enter one's dreams and extract information known only by that person. When a job goes wrong on a Japanese business man, Saito (Watanabe), he enlists Cobb to perform the previously thought impossible; Inception - planting an idea in the mind of a target rather than extracting it. Enticed by the promise from Saito that his success will allow him to see his estranged children again, Cobb agrees, risking his own mind should he fail.

Inception is clever without being pretentious, a rare quality in the face of some hugely pseudo-intellectual arty films that people tend to rave about. It does not try to deceive you with magician's tricks, like one of Nolan's other works, The Prestige. Inception lays everything you need to know in front of you. There are parts where you will say "come again?", but it really works your brain in such an enjoyable manner that you will want to watch it again, and not for the reasons you might think. Christopher Nolan doesn't seem to direct a bad movie. After the massively successful revamp of the Batman films he can do no wrong. But as I think about it, when has he ever directed a bad film? The fantastic thing about Nolan though is that he does not attempt to ram a point down your throat. Rather, he presents numerous themes for the audience to contemplate themselves. Grief, faith and the afterlife are all there to be pondered upon in Inception. Or, if you're like me, have heated discussions with others over what the real meaning of this or that was. Knowing Nolan though, he'll never tell us himself what he truly meant.

The artistry involved in this film is incredible. From the Matrix-style fist fights in zero gravity to Paris being uprooted and twisted upon itself. From the high octane gun battles in the pouring streets of LA to the glaringly blatant yet still enjoyable homage to Modern Warfare 2. Inception has some fucking cool scenes. The way in which these are all so complexly edited together to form the layers of the mind's subconscious is so incredible and mind boggling, yet somehow managing to maintain coherency, that it will absolutely fry your brain at how awesome the whole spectacle is.

DiCaprio used to be someone I never really liked. Don't ask me why, just 'something about him' I guess. A bit like Clooney. However, he has now officially won me over. He is an absolutely brilliant actor and literally carries the film without putting an emphasis on it. Of course everyone puts out a fantastic turn and you will recognise some from previous Nolan films, most noticeably Cillian Murphy who played the Scarecrow in Batman Begins. Whilst the characters are solid, the narrative sacrifices their development for Cobb's story to be told. This in no means detracts from the film, but I thought some characters, particularly Gordon-Levitt's Arthur and Ellen Page's Ariadne could have been explored further or given more personality. This is but a very minor quibble though. For what is sacrificed in them however is made up in DiCaprio's portrayal of Cobb. Depth oozes out of him and you can really believe his tale. You empathise with this man, forming a genuine attachment to his plight. It's fantastic to watch and marks the second time this year (the other being Shutter Island) in which DiCaprio has produced an outstanding, if not career defining performance.

This is a bloody clever film, but it is not half clever as it thinks it is. You are constantly barraged with information so you will need to pay attention if you want to stand any hope of following what's going on. But you will be rewarded with a highly satisfying feeling having done so, even if it may feel a little, for want of better word, clich├ęd, but not. You will however want to watch it again, just to make sure. Somehow, somehow, Nolan has managed to create an intellectual film which is also emotional without skimping on the explosions. All this without letting the success of the Batman series get to his head to go on a wildly pretentious 'creative' spree. This is an amazing film, probably film of the year, and a definite must see.