Inception (2010) Review

I think Christopher Nolan considers himself some kind of meticulous watch maker. Inception has shot after shot of clocks. In the movie it’s to remind you of the warping of time that makes the story trippy. Subtly, the clocks, along with the idea as the mind and world as just a function of architecture, reinforce the notion of machine. Machine, like The Matrix was a machine; machine like the body as a watch as in his first big film, Memento.

And as with all machines, Nolan seems to think the machine can be fucked with which is opposite the notion of many Sci-fi movies with their notions as machine as overlord and future master. Even the dream state can be manufactured, manipulated, spindled, changed and corrupted. Our brain as the watch the watch maker can tinker with.

This is all fine and good, except Christopher Nolan breaks his own premise and his own rules which is where his finely crafted watch starts to break down.


Every one will eventually see Inception. It’s like his two biggest movies, The Dark Night and Memento. Every one will see it just to see what the fuss is all about. While I’d watch Memento again, I don’t think I need to see Inception or The Dark Night. Both movies suffer from the same flaw: they over reach their Philosophy 101 premises. That’s not to say both movies weren’t great rides filled with technical craft and breath taking moments, but the more I think about each film, the less I like them.
There’s a lot of buy-in to Inception, much to accept as a premise. That’s fine. The first half of the movie is a mix of setting up the rules and then getting the crew together a la Ocean’s Eleven. The action sequences that fill the second half of the movie are a mixed bag with the anti-gravity stuff being the best and the retread James Bond snow scenes the slowest. The problem is the second half breaks the rules in the first half. For example, if you die, you wake up. Not so in the second half, you go to limbo– a place that doesn’t have an architect which the movie goes out of the way to say is needed. The while process of jumping out of the dream seems convoluted and made up compared to the first half. Plus, at the end of the day, emotional reality, that is what a person feels is true, trumps actual reality. So much so, a man being able to see his kids is more moral than worldwide global crisis this merry band of criminals create by planting an idea in in the unwitting mark’s head.

While I did enjoy the movie, here’s a short list of pet peeves about Inception:
Showing the last scene of a movie first is now a cliche. More often than not, it fails to build interest and instead ruins many plot points. I knew right away not only would Leonardo hook up with the ‘bad guy,’ but that he would die in a dream.
No more anonymous guys in jumpsuits and masks shooting at the heros who are also in jumpsuit and masks. Bleh. We know they’ll get out ok and it’s just confusing figuring out which character is being shot or shot at.
While the last shot was neat, man did I see that coming.
How do you go into a dream inside of a dream. The more I think about it the more it’s dumb.
A character as audience surrogate. I love Ellen Page and she did great, but 80% of her dialog was just asking questions about how it all worked. For those that found the movie confusing, did you ignore all of her dialogue? I actually wanted more ambiguity. It’s like hiring an inquisitive kindergardener to help rob a bank.
This was the most complex, least thought out plan in the history of the big scam. Go inside a man’s head three layers deep to get him to think about a vague idea. Uh-huh. Oh, and once you get there, have no idea what to do or tell the other members about the dangers. Seriously, if I was the French dude I would have kicked Leo’s ass. It’s like walking into a bank on stilts, then deciding to rob it with little or no escape plan.

One of the problems with big, event movies is, man, they look great. Yea, I know that’s not a problem, but the great acting, design, editing, well-defined emotional arcs, cinematography, snappy dialogue, and firm direction often leaves me feeling more empty than a smaller movie with messier, grander and looser problems.

I guess what I’m saying is a pretty action picture with some off the shelf philosophy and dream iconography is still mostly a pretty action picture.

But the effects were great.

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