Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Inception

It's very rare when a movie comes along that brings something entirely new to the idea of storytelling. In 2000, a film called Memento started the whole temporal narrative trend that has since been adopted by popular fare such as Lost, Flash Forward, and Star Trek (the new one). Christopher Nolan's Memento was unique and made the audience re-think the traditional structure of a film plot. 10 years later he's done it again by creating an original story that deals with different levels of reality. Rather than going back and forth through time, the story of Inception takes the audience through multiple sub-levels of conscious. It's a ride I haven't experienced at the movies in a while and the end result is remarkably original and extremely engaging and interesting to take in as a viewer.

Of course it doesn't hurt that Nolan assembled the perfect cast for this movie. Ellen Page (Juno), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who has gone from a goofy kid in Angels in the Outfield to a LEGIT actor) and Marion Cotillard (Oscar winner for La Vie En Rose) are all very good in their roles as members of an elite dream extraction team. I know, dream extraction itself is a far fetched idea but one that is made completely plausible in the world that Nolan builds for his audience. This film wouldn't be what it is however without yet another strong performance by the best actor working today, Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo cranks out hit after hit and is always dependable at his craft. You know when you go to see a DiCaprio movie that you're getting a full-effort from Leo without a doubt. One of these years he needs to win an Oscar or two.

While the acting is a strong suit of this movie, the plot itself completely makes this film exceptional. I don't know how Nolan dreamt this tightly wound narrative up but he managed to weave it all together perfectly and actually make it accessible for viewers. I went into the movie preparing to be lost at times and miss key plot elements due to the complexity (from what I've heard). I was pleasantly surprised that by the end (a VERY quick 2.5 hours of run time) I totally understood everything I just saw. The temporal differences between dream layers were crafted brilliantly to allow all loose ends to be wrapped up in time. I don't want to give any spoilers away, but this is definitely the type of movie that warrants follow-on discussion. Feel free to express any questions/comments about the review that contain spoilers over email. I purposely avoided most reviews about this movie and I think it paid off. Try to know as little as you can about Inception before you see it. It's best to experience it fresh for the first time. All I will say is that when you see the "dream team" boarding a plane together near the middle of the movie, buckle in and brace yourself for an original and rewarding hour of film.

Nolan is a 100% lock to win an Oscar for Best Screenplay, making up for the two he missed out on for Memento AND The Dark Knight. Right now I can't see another movie approaching this one for title of Best Picture. It will be nominated for sure (especially with the 10 film format in play once again). I am starting to think I will be behind this movie in the same way I backed District 9 last year.
Both movies consist of uniquely original ideas for Hollywood. In this day and age of remake after remake, it really is refreshing to see visionary directors try to roll the dice and bring something new to the table. Christopher Nolan took a risk with this film and it totally paid off. 5 out of 5 JR's for Inception which indeed passed Shutter Island as my favorite movie of 2010. DiCaprio is a huge two-for-two in my book in 2010 with two outstanding performances.