Monday, August 9, 2010


Inception is a very, very good movie, but that can’t hide the fact that it doesn’t live up to the high potential that it sets for itself.
Great efforts have been made to keep the story of the film a secret, but it really isn’t possible to discuss the film much without going into at least the outline. If you want to see the film completely untainted by potential spoilers, then don’t read any further and just go see it because, whatever problems I have, this is still a great movie, probably the best of this year’s summer blockbusters, and almost guaranteed for a best picture nomination.
Still here? Well, the setting of Inception involves talented psychics who can use shared dreams to enter other people’s minds to steal secrets. Leonardo Dicaprio plays Cobb, a master agent who takes a job to perform an “Inception”, the supposedly impossible task of planting an idea in someone’s head. To accomplish this, he assembles a team in classic heist movie sense, including Ariadne, a young prodigy played by Ellen Page, who Dicaprio’s character tasks with building the dream world. The one problem, however, is that Cobb’s emotional baggage is starting to pollute their operations.
All of this is delivered in a very long opening sequence which goes into great detail explaining the principles and rules of dream diving and setting up the pattern of the heist. Then, the team enters the actual dream heist, and three different layers of dreaming are created. At this point, the movie shifts somewhat radically into enter action-thriller mode, with each layer containing a different action set-piece. This is where the film starts to get disappointing.
Not enough is done with the original premise that all of this is happening in dreamscapes. The premise of the action is that human manifestations of the victim’s subconscious attack the invaders like white blood cells. It works in theory, but unfortunately it is kind of a let down since the result is an intentionally generic army of spy-movie mooks pouring gunfire on the almost inexplicably action oriented agents. The third layer, in which agents assault a snow fortress (for some reason), could have been put in a Bond movie without a single alteration. Nowhere can you find symbolic representations of the subject's mind or unusual or illogical dream architecture like in Satoshi Kon's much, much better dreamscape action movie Paprika.

There are great moments, particularly in an exhilarating and visually stunning scene in which shifts in gravity on one layer cause gravity to change in a deeper layer, leading to a spectacular shifting aerial duel, but unfortunately these moments are in the minority. In an expository scene, Ariadne plays with the dreamscape by literally folding a city onto itself, but in the actual heist the environments are rigidly static and not really that dreamy.

There are glimpses of greatness here, and the film does touch on questions of reality and subconscious psychology, but unfortunately it really only touches on them. Still, though, the action scenes are executed beautifully and cast is stellar, and when the film does get surreal the effects are visually stunning.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t be noticing how much greater Inception could have been if it wasn’t already so good that I didn’t feel the need to compromise to enjoy it.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home