Action Movies, by Ajay Singh, 10 March 2011

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Lukas Haas, Christopher Nolan, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Country: USA | UK

Runtime:

Release Date:

Language: English | Japanese

Official Site: Inception Official Site

Inception

Inception

It is already a well-known fact that Christopher Nolan’s brain-twisting new film Inception will make your head hurt. It will, but perhaps in a good way. It is rare these days to see an action/sci-fi film with an interesting, original concept that does not end with a lame alien invasion or supernatural influence anti-climax. Inception is not impossible to follow, but it does demand your complete attention every minute, maintaining its tension almost unrelentingly throughout the film.  It is not an easy film to watch over diner, and you have to listen closely to all the lengthy explanations in order to follow the action.

The narrative follows a group of “extractors”, corporate mercenaries capable of infiltrating any given subject’s sleeping mind and invading his/her subconscious in order to steal ideas, secrets, or hidden thoughts. The best part is, the victim hardly ever knows that his or her mind has been tampered with, to them it is all just a dream. The idea itself, and the way a dream heist of this type is unraveled in the opening sequence is instantly attention-grabbing. Through the unfolding layers of the first dream, the unexpected glitches, and the intricate inter-cutting of various levels, you initially struggle to follow but are soon rewarded by a warming feeling of smugness as you begin to understand. That is one of the lovely things about Inception – you are always conscious of how complicated it is, so you cannot help feeling clever when you realise you are getting it.  

Dom takes on the seemingly impossible task he is offered, hoping that the influential Saito will help him clear a dark and tragic secret from his past off his record, allowing him to reunite with his children. He then proceeds in classic action movie style to gather a brilliant team of experts including architecture student Ariadne (Ellen Page), to build the ultimate dream labyrinth spanning three layers. The actual building process, as well as the climactic journey through the layers involves a series of very sophisticated and dynamic effects shots, many of which are shockingly not computer generated. A gravity-defying scene in a hotel hallway, spinning from the impact of a jolting van being driven in another dream layer (trust me it doesn’t sound that odd in the actual film), is a brilliant example of this. It actually involved a full scale, physical set filled with live actors, spun and turned over on an enormous rig in front of the camera.

With this level of veracity and dedication, the thing that really contributes to the film’s confusing reputation is the casting. It features a seemingly impressive ensemble cast including Leonardo DiCaprio,  Joseph Gordon- Levitt, Marion Cotillard as the malicious mental projection of Dom’s dead wife, Ellen Page, Batman Returns’s Cillian Murphy in a surprisingly un-villainous role, and Michael Caine as the now standard action film father/guardian figure.

DiCaprio is really type-cast in this role, and though he is not a bad actor he simply doesn’t do anything here that we haven’t seen before. He broods with gritty significance here much as he did in a series of other finely-made, well-directed action films. In a film as fresh and original as Inception, he just seems too familiar, and makes the audience relax their vigilance instead of concentrating on the film.

As for Ellen Page, she makes for a charming precocious teenager, but she just isn’t mature enough as an actress to tackle an full-blown adult role yet, and looks out of place with the rest of the cast. There is no narrative validation for her impossibly young appearance for a college student, and when she attempts to give valuable life lessons to the other characters she comes off as arrogant and petulant without meaning to. Unlike DiCaprio, she is an unusual choice for this role, but that doesn’t mean the choice is edgy or successful.

A more well-chosen cast would give the narrative more freedom to develop independently, allowing us to think about the idea rather than the actors. Inception is an exciting and thought-provoking film that deserves to be judged on the merits of its concept and visual execution rather than the resumes of its cast members.

Inception [Blu-ray] [2010] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
Actors:
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Studio: Warner Studios
Running Time: minutes

List Price:
Price: £9.66
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4.2 out of 5 stars (1132)

Inception Videos

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