Good news everyone, Inception is a fresh idea in the festering sea of remade and recycled garbage that we call the 2010 movie season. The not so great news is that it does not live up to its hype. Now there are those who will say “Oh you didn’t like it because you didn’t understand the depth and complexity of what was going on.” Those people should be summarily slapped in the mouth by the dead hand of Rick James. Inception is a good movie; it is not a great movie. It is very straightforward in what it wants to accomplish, but it runs into a lot of problems in its execution.
I have to give it to Christopher Nolan, he managed to write a solid story because he followed the KISS rule. I can even tell you about the movie without spoiling anything because the plot is dreadfully simple and see through. An idea needs to be put into the Scarecrow’s head (Cillian Murphy) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s team sets out to do it. Everything looks like it will go according to plan until the actual mind invasion begins. At that point the team goes through a series of video games. First they play a game that is a combination of Split/Second and Grand Theft Auto III, with a little bit of The Getaway thrown in. Next the scene turns to a 3D version of Elevator Action (and it actually has some of the best action in the movie). What was supposed to be the last stop on this literal mind trip is a rather intense round of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, however, things go even more wrong because the whole time this team does not realize they are also playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. That part winds up being Leo’s fault so he makes up for it by playing Crackdown but it’s more like Crackdown after you have beaten the game because he’s in this huge city with nothing to do. Add in an ending which just pissed me off that is Inception and you are scratching your head wondering what the hell I am talking about. That’s alright, it will all make sense after you watch.
The ridiculous description of the plot is saved by a fantastic cast of characters. Leonardo DiCaprio is the lonely and tortured Dom Cobb, a thief who has to pull one last job so that he can finally go home. His main partners are Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Eames (Tom Hardy). These two have a great comic relief vibe going in early scenes but quickly become serious when the time comes for their talents to be utilized. Cobb is normally in the business of stealing information from within the human mind but this time he needs to plant a seed of an idea in order to make a man do something in the real world. For this, he needed two specialists. The first is Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist who specializes in sedatives. Yusuf has to ensure that they cannot be awakened by normal means. The second is Ariadne (Ellen Page), who is a master of creating mind puzzles and mazes. The final member of the team is Saito, and he is the one who contracted the mission. He insisted on coming with them to witness the job. The five characters (at least onscreen) play off of each other beautifully and save an otherwise paper thin plot with good acting. Having Tom Berenger and Michael Caine as supporting cast did not hurt at all either.
Many movies have dealt with dreams or a perceived self within the mind but Inception did something very interesting in the dream self having cognizance of what is happening to the physical body. Yusuf had to pee when he went to sleep (not kidding) so it was always raining where he was. Whenever someone got moved suddenly or for example, got wet, it would happen to the dream self.This made for some pretty awesome visual effects. The “Elevator Action” scene as I referred to it had several fights in a hallway that would shift suddenly, turn upside down or on its side and even spin. Action wise, it was easily my favorite scene in the movie. This movie was not very special effects heavy which was as refreshing as it was kind of strange. On the one, you have things going on in someone’s mind where literally anything could happen so you’d think you would see SFX every couple of seconds. Instead, scenes were kept very realistic, using effects only when it was necessary.
I am very harsh in my criticism of this movie. I have had people tell me all day that I am crazy for not liking it and they really are not paying attention. I do like this movie. I will buy it when it hits stores. I encourage people to see it both in theatres and at home. I am just tired of all the hype and unwarranted praise it is getting. I always go to IMDB when I write reviews because I never remember everyone’s name, whether it be real name or on screen character. I started reading reviews of other moviegoers and someone said this was the best movie of our time. If Inception were even the best movie of this year I would be disappointed. Out of five stars I would give this movie three and a half to maybe four. It loses points for a ridiculous story and only hangs on due to some really good acting.