Summer Film Series – Vol. 8, No. 5: INCEPTION
August 27, 2010, at Cinemark Allen 16 in Allen, TX
Some movies are so spectacular that you know you will love them before you really even see them. I assumed I’d love The Matrix when I first saw the trailers for it, and that was confirmed for me within the first few minutes of the film when Trinity first suspended herself in mid-air just before taking out a roomful of policemen using only her skills and their weapons. I was convinced of the greatness that is Minority Report before I ever saw a single frame at the cinema. So naturally, based on the spectacular trailers for Inception, I knew I’d love it without knowing one true thing about it. It had a great pedigree in director Christopher Nolan and star Leonardo DiCaprio and its story was obviously going to be mind-bending, and those two elements alone were enough to convince me that it was going to be far beyond my wildest imagination. And it is. In more ways than I can count.
To summarize the plot is to give away too much of the film, so I will not do that here. It is necessary to see Inception with no preconceived ideas. I avoided all reviews and news articles prior to viewing just to enter with a clear head. Unfortunately, there was one small element revealed to me unwittingly, and knowing that one thing really did take away a significant level of enjoyment. It’s not that I disliked anything but rather, I knew too much and the mystery wasn’t as deep as it should have been. And that’s a disappointment, as the greatest gift of the film is not knowing until the pieces start to fall into place. That such an experience was taken from me is a true regret as I spent the entire film understanding the story in a way that only should be experienced on second and third viewings. For a movie-lover like me, it truly did take away from the adventure of the film.
Make no mistake, Inception is a thinker. It’s the kind of film that forces you to be alert and watchful. It’s not so much “entertainment” as it is an “experience,” and as much as I recommend it to every single person who loves a great film, I know that there is a contingent of people who just find it boring. In truth, it’s only boring to those unwilling to participate in cinematic experiences. Those who find it boring are those who simply want their movies thrown at them with cues for when to laugh and when to cry and what to think. Inception doesn’t tell us any of these things. In fact, it tells us very little. Instead, it presents itself with all you need to know to form your own conclusions. And even then, the conclusions you make are highly debatable. This film is one of those incredible stories that will be discussed and argued and weighed and measured for years to come. I’d even go so far as to say it will be discussed for generations, in the same way we now discuss Hitchcock, Kubrick, Welles, and yes, The Matrix trilogy.
What I will say about Inception is that it has one of the greatest casts ever assembled, and the average moviegoer will know very few of them. DiCaprio was given above-the-title billing, but he is merely the navigator of the story. It is his castmates who truly take the film to its heights, and none moreso than Joseph Gordon-Levitt (seen in the images here), Tom Hardy (whom you will remember in years to come as you think back on the film), and the ever-delightful Marion Cotillard (whose character cannot even be described because just knowing who she plays will destroy a key plot point of the film). The rest of the cast is divine in their roles, as well, including Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, and my longtime favorite Cillian Murphy. At various points throughout the film, each of these actors, as their respective characters, draw your attention away from everything else going on, and that is truly a rare gift in modern movies. But above all else, it is the visual spectacle that makes Inception so phenomenal. The (mostly non-CGI) effects of the film are breathtaking — as is one of the first images you see in the film: a grand hall filled with pendant lights that took my breath away every time it was shown — yet none of them draw attention from the human element. And I believe that is the film’s greatest strength.
images via Internet Movie Database are linked to source