Inception (2010)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.6/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

INCEPTION (2010) - Christopher Nolan

"Your mind is the scene of the crime"

Originally an 80-page treatment written by Christopher Nolan before he even made Batman BeginsInception has been widely regarded as one of the greatest films of the decade, mostly due to its striking originality and creativity. Known as a combination of science fiction, heist film, and film noir, Inception is an exploration of reality and dreams, about the idea of people sharing dream space where people have the ability to access somebody else's unconscious mind.

Inception revolves around Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a thief who commits corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets, also known as "extraction." He is then offered a chance to regain his old life as a payment for a task considered to be impossible. This task is known as "inception," the implantation of an idea into a target's subconscious. After building a team and executing the mission, Cobb finds himself constantly conflicted by his subconscious images of his deceased wife (Marion Cotillard).

Christopher Nolan is a very ambitious filmmaker, and Inception is undoubtedly an ambitious movie as well as a great work of filmmaking. This ambition is what gives the film its visionary power. However, it is also the film's very weakness. Inception is a great movie, but a movie with many problems.

The film is extremely demanding to immerse us into its universe. Due to the fact that it explores dreams and accessing the subconscious, there is a countless series of rules that the film needed to take time to explain. These rules range from how many layers dreams can have to how a subconscious can affect the world of the dream. Many critics will argue that there are simply way too many rules to follow, almost as if the film is strapping us to a classroom and giving us a lecture about how its world works, and I agree. At the same time, the professor of the lecture, Christopher Nolan himself, is always a few steps ahead of the audience. 

Despite the overabundance of rules, the film tries its best to explain it all using Ellen Page's character. In fact, Ellen Page's character basically symbolizes the audience in the first half of the movie. It wants to wrap around detailed concepts that takes too much time explaining that it detracts it from its storytelling. Therefore, the film gets extremely confusing that demands a second, even third, viewing. As much as I understand what happened in each layer of the dream, I have friends who still do not know what was going on. In terms of storytelling, Inception did not excel in it. As mentioned before, it spent too much time immersing us into its world that it forgot to engage us with a story. In simple words, the plot was too dense, and from the words of LA film critic Wade Major: "The film gets in its own way too much." Furthermore, Inception has a tad too many plot lines.

Underneath the heist plot where Cobb must implant an idea into the target's (Cillian Murphy) mind, the greatest conflict that Cobb must face is his quarrel with his wife. There is much emotion and meaning behind the chemistry between the couple, but the film never stressed on it enough for the audience to care. When looking at Inception as a whole, the main goal the audience wants accomplished is the idea to successfully get implanted. As for the romance storyline between DiCaprio and Cotillard, it is really difficult to feel for them.

Marion Cotillard is probably one of the best elements about Inception. She is the femme fatale of this movie, despite the fact that the film could have had more visual factors of film noir. Her character has much depth and it is completely understandable why she constantly gets in the way of her husband. However, the main flaw that keeps pulling me out of this specific subplot is Nolan's writing and DiCaprio's acting. DiCaprio is a great actor, but he really cannot act out the emotion here that requires depth and second-layered emotions. If you put him in a movie like Blood Diamond or Shutter Island, he can deliver. If you put him in a movie like Inception, he can deliver, but the complexity of the romance plot simply exposes his incapability of demonstrating those emotions out. The best thing he could pull off is the classic serious face he gives in every single movie that he is in, similar to the classic sad face that Tom Hanks gives in every one of his films. 

As for Nolan's writing, he should have either focused on the heist plot alone, or he should have focused on the Cobb/Mal plot alone. Putting the two together not only makes the film overly complex, but it also drains the potential of both. Instead of having a chance to have one great story, you are given two mediocre stories. If the heist plot alone is looked at, there are much better heist films. If the romance plot alone is looked at, there are much better romance films. When critiquing Inception on a storytelling factor, it is simply unorganized and it could have been pulled off much better, and this is because the film is too large scale for it to handle itself. This is due to Nolan's ambition, which is the strength and weakness of this movie. I respect Nolan and give him much credit for his ambition, however his execution could have been better.

All those flaws being said, Inception is still a thought-provoking movie with great intriguing set pieces, cinematography, and visual effects, although the technical element that I give the most credit to would be the editing. Seriously, if it was not for the skillful editing in this movie, it would have lost me halfway in when all the dream layers begin to kick in. The soundtrack is memorable, proof that Hans Zimmer is a very talented composer, and the visual effects are eye-popping, giving Inception the right atmosphere as well as the right look. Based on how it looks, Inception looks amazing, inevitably the best looking film of 2010. The real thing that makes Inception the "great movie" that everyone called it is its originality of dreams and realities. Without a doubt, it is fascinating and captivating, but it brings about many problems when Inception is looked at in terms of storytelling. 

As much as I credit the film for its creativity, my biggest respect for it is the literal fact that it was original. It is not just the idea itself that makes it prestigious, but the fact that this original idea came during the time of lame sequels, remakes, and franchises. Inception is living proof that creative ideas still exist, that Hollywood is not entirely plagued by formulaic junk. In other words, it gives me hope that future movies still have potential to have striking creativity. As for Christopher Nolan as a director, I agree with Roger Ebert once again, on the fact that Nolan reinvented Batman, but "this time he isn't reinventing anything."

In conclusion, Inception is an ambitious film that wants us to think, but it tries too hard and went too far in its process. This is a movie where it will get better the more times you rewatch it. However, it will only get better in the field of understanding the rules of the film's universe. The premise and content of the film is undoubtedly appealing, and the heist plot is somehow still compelling for the audience to follow, however not the best. To settle an argument, Inception is indeed one of the best films of 2010, but it is an extremely overrated movie. It deserves praise, but it is definitely not Nolan's best film, severely inferior to The Dark Knight and even The Prestige. Why all the hype about Inception then, one might ask. Perhaps because it arrived during the glut of horrible movies. Perhaps it was just refreshingly original. Is it entertaining? Yes. Did it deserve its $825 million box office? Yes. Did it deserve its four Oscar wins? Yes. Did it deserve to win Best Picture? Nowhere close. If it did, I would "kick" myself awake.

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