The summer of Inception

August 5, 2010 at 8:43 am (Movies, Reviews)

I remember, many years back, going to the theater to see The Matrix. Back then, I wasn’t the internet freak I am today, so I had no idea what to expect from that film – I went in not knowing anything about it, and it managed to blow me away. More than a decade later, it’s becoming almost impossible to be surprised by anything anymore. Inception has been the most talked-about and the most anticipated film on the lists of pretty much everyone. I watched the trailers tons of times. I saw the 9.2 rating on Imdb, who already lists it as the number 3 movie of all-time. I think it’s safe to say this has been the most hyped movie of the last decade, and my expectations were through the roof.

Yet it still managed to blow me away – just like The Matrix did more than 10 years ago.

Christopher Nolan, obviously one of the most talented American directors working today, managed to create something that almost seems impossible: a smart summer blockbuster. Usually, these terms exclude each other. Not the case with Inception, a truly complex, original, intelligent heist film, that’s also breathtakingly spectacular and – surprisingly – pretty easy to follow. The story is indeed complex, but it’s never confusing. It assumes the viewer is always attentive, not allowing any breaks (I strongly suggest visiting the bathroom before the film starts), but it never tries to be impervious just for the sake of it.

Dom Cobb, the film’s main protagonist, is brilliantly played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a fantastic actor that recently became one of my all-time favorites. The guy sure knows how to choose his roles. Ever since Titanic, barring a few rare hiccups, all his roles have been amazing, and the fact that he stars in this year’s two best films (Inception and Shutter Island) says a lot about the guy.

Here, he plays a deeply troubled individual, broken by guilt, driven by remorse and always in search of redemption. DiCaprio nails the role perfectly, and this is clearly what makes the movie work. Without his outstanding performance, without the depth he gives his character, without us being able to connect with him on an emotional level, the whole heart of the film would be gone. He might not be an Oscar contender for this role (it’s not flashy enough for the Academy, and the fact it’s a sci-fi blockbuster doesn’t help either), but it is one of the best performances of the year.

And how about the technical aspect of the film? Well, needless to say, it’s fantastic. Wally Pfister, Nolan’s cinematographer, manages to create a visually stunning film, full of amazing sets, awesome shots and perfectly crafted action sequences. Hans Zimmer’s score is simply beautiful, especially during the film’s final hour, an intense spectacle of visual and directorial awesomeness. That scene towards the end, with the sequential kicks to escape the different dream levels, is one of the best scenes I have ever seen in movies. It’s such a difficult scene, so perfectly crafted and masterfully directed, it literally gave me goosebumps.

What makes Inception truly special is that all of the visual treats Nolan is offering are only used to serve a story, and not the other way around. It’s not about the explosions and the chases – it’s about using dreams to find redemption. Whenever a spectacular film has an actual story to support all the on-screen awesomeness, it’s something special – just like Inception is.

The only thing that keeps this from reaching perfection is a certain lack of polish regarding the secondary characters – they’re all underdeveloped and lack true motivations. A really minor setback that doesn’t influence the constant bombardment of freshness, originality, wit and spectacle Nolan is throwing our way. And it doesn’t influence the fact that, without a doubt, Inception is the movie of the year.

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1 Comment

  1. john said,

    I go with the NY Times review on this one

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