Thursday, July 15, 2010


The first shot of Inception is a close up of crashing waves. I was instantly reminded of the introduction to another Christopher Nolan film, The Prestige. In that movie it’s a shot of a field of top hats with a voice over saying, “Are you watching closely?” That should just be attached to every Nolan film at this point. ESPECIALLY if he makes a film depicting his incredibly creative vision of a world where dreams can be entered and tampered with.

It’s not because there are clues hidden in every frame. (Although I’ve already taken part in a few discussions questioning certain frames in the movie.) It’s because Nolan is not interested in making a traditional movie in any sense with Inception. Our heroes are taking part in morally questionable things and there are no “true” antagonists. There are plenty of obstacles but they are all internal struggles. Yet…internal struggles have a different plane in this movie.

The plot of this movie is so inventive and thrilling that I’m going to avoid talking about the details. I will say there is something called “extraction.” This is the process of a team of people entering a person’s dreams and manipulating that world to discover their secrets. Then there is something called “inception” which is entering a person’s dreams and introducing a new idea that is attempted to be passed off as organic.

I swear to God it all makes sense in the movie. Some people are annoyed when characters are explaining things on screen, but that is always justified if the audience is actually asking those questions. If there’s a lame thriller and the main character says something like “I’ve never been the same…since Panama.” At this point the audience is sure his girlfriend/partner/father/mother/brother/cousin/dog/stranger was killed in Panama and nobody is asking about the monologue details. With Inception they tease new amazing plot elements and since the characters and scenarios are so fascinating in this movie I’m asking about everything.

Not only that, but the answers are fantastic. Each new layer of this puzzle is more compelling and even more dangerous. The conventions towards this movie are so unique that Nolan managed to think of stakes greater than death. I didn’t even know that was possible! With these stakes that I will not reveal, that means every moment of this thriller counts.

I’m being insanely vague in this review, but I will confirm this is a thriller. As cerebral as the plot becomes, there is still plenty of jaw-droppingly cool action sequences. So if by an hour in and you still can’t figure out ANYTHING that’s going on, there are still great car chases and gunfights that exist in its own world. This movie will be compared to The Matrix because it is one of those shockingly fresh action movies that will undoubtedly being a phenomenon. Inception moves beyond The Matrix because it never falls on overdone hero journeys and typical depictions of good and evil.

This is the type of movie that reminds you that no matter how much crap is in the theatres, there is still a reason to anticipate movies. There are still filmmakers who are out there trying to make the best movie possible and Nolan accomplished that.


  1. I get what you're saying, but I think "The Matrix" was aiming for a classic comic book feel. That's why it has the classic (or you might say "standard") depictions of good and evil. Also, I don't think it was trying to be unlike anything you had ever seen. It consciously evokes Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Philip K. Dick, anime, the list goes on. Despite those parallels, it still feels fresh and original, which is one of the great things about it.

    That's my two cents on "The Matrix" comparison.

  2. Don't get me wrong, I still like The Matrix a lot. It's a blast. There's a lot of fun stuff with that movie, but much like when you mentally review Avatar (Another film is still on my thumbs up list) you become disappointed with its central story.

    When you look at a direct comparison, Inception wins by a mile because it is looking at creating original content. The Matrix did a lot of things right with how it told its story, but it still relied too heavily on its Christ parallel and using archetypes for it's secondary characters. "The mentor," "The hardened hot fighter chick," and "The most evil guy you can ever imagine," etc.

    Inception succeeds as the masterpiece that I'm saying because not only is it an amazing visceral experience, but it shocks me on every level. I can not repeat this enough: there are stakes greater than death. How insane is that?

  3. I see what you're saying. I'm seeing "Inception" today, I'll let you know what I think.