Inception comes with a lot of hype. With enigmatic trailers, huge posters and the fact that it is the new film by Christopher Nolan, it’s making sure that everyone will notice it. Now, it’s easy to be prejudiced against a film as hyped up as Inception. Avatar and Paranormal Activity were duds, while the great Kick-Ass went by almost unnoticed. However, Inception is one of those rare films that, while not living up to expectations (whatever they were as the trailers were so devoid of clues), it surprises in other, completely unexpected ways.
Without getting too bogged down in the plot, Inception is presumably set in the near future where corporate espionage has moved on to “extraction”, a means of entering the dreams of your rival and stealing their ideas. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the extractor and he’s the best there is. He becomes embroiled in the seemingly impossible idea of ‘inception’, an attempt to plant the seed of an idea in the mind of a business rival, effectively brainwashing them. Mind, there is much more to the film than this comparatively simple synopsis would suggest.
The first forty minutes of the film are hard to fully grasp and suspicions are that this is intentional. From the first scene, Nolan is giving you a warning, “Get ready to think”. Eventually it will all become remarkably coherent, as long as you pay attention and keep up. Those seeing the film solely for the visceral action of set pieces (of which there are many) held together by a threadbare story, which seems to be the way of most recent action movies, will suffer. But therein lies the beauty of Inception.
Having to think during a $160 million action movie is a rarity, and for that simple reason Inception is unique. Who, after ten minutes, didn’t know where Avatar was going? And who really felt moved to discuss it at length afterwards? Inception is full of ideas and is a genuinely creative film. Cherish it. There will not be many films like this in the multiplexes unless, of course, Hollywood takes Nolan’s lead and start making films that are actually about something again.
However, Inception is not without its flaws. Primarily a visual film and a film about ideas: the question of the difference between the dream state and reality and how to tell them apart is intriguingly tackled. As a result, it is not an actor’s film. As good as the cast may be, they are not characters. As the posters show, they are merely roles (The Extractor, The Architect, The Mark) to which each actor is assigned. People who don’t like it say that they didn’t bother trying to keep up with the intricate plot because they didn’t care about the characters. While these arguments are just, it should be remembered that it’s a film about a concept and, in some ways, post-human. On top of this, the film is 148 minutes long. Adding character development, with a little exploration into the morality of extraction and a bit of humour thrown in, it wouldn’t be a film. It would be a mini-series. Another thing to bear in mind is that while Inception is an original film, it does owe a certain number of its ideas to David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ. In some ways, what Heat is to The Dark Knight, eXistenZ is to Inception.
Inception is a film you will find yourself thinking about days after seeing it. It’s a work-out and great fun for that. And it deserves every penny.