INTERN’S REVIEW: If You Haven’t Seen “Inception” Yet, Go See It. I Mean It.
by Philip Benais
Inception: Directed By Christopher Nolan. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Ken Watanbe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine and Marion Cotilliard.
I’m not going to mince words here; if you haven’t seen Inception yet, go see if now. I mean it, it’s worth tracking down a theater to see this movie. No ifs, no buts, if you’re a lover of cinema and haven’t seen this masterwork you sorely need to. This is the kind of film that defines a director’s career. Francis Ford Coppola had The Godfather, Quentin Tarantino had Pulp Fiction, and now Christopher Nolan can stand tall and say ‘Yes, I AM the man who made Inception.’ This is the kind of nutty brilliance that you get when you take an idea like Andrei Tarkovsky meets The Matrix or Stanley Kubrick meets James Bond and manage to make it into a blockbuster film. It easily surpassed my already astronomical expectations and if you give it a chance, I’m sure you’ll love it too.
For those of you who don’t know, Christopher Nolan is the man responsible for some of the best films modern cinema has to offer, always bringing us challenging yet completely immersive films that this reviewer could never get enough of; I loved the mystery and excitement of Memento. I reveled in how well Al Pacino and Robin Williams counterbalanced each other in Insomnia. I was relieved at how dark and brooding Batman Begins was, getting rid of the sour taste of Joel Schumacher’s bat nipples and ice puns. I was emotional over The Prestige, and The Dark Knight? Hell, who didn’t enjoy that film? Now, I can safely say that Inception is his magnum opus; no matter the future, this will always be my standard for Christopher Nolan’s future films.
I fear that any explicit details I give would ruin the experience of this movie, so I’ll be sure to word this carefully; Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an extractor, someone who can infiltrate his target’s dreams and take any information he requires. After an extraction gone wrong with his Point Man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) he is asked about the idea of inception from a shady businessman named Saito, (Ken Watanbe) an extremely powerful individual who asks the seemingly simple question ‘if you can steal something from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant something inside?’ After exhausting the point and finally claiming to be able to make Dom’s mysterious legal charges go away, Cobb reconsiders and assembles a new team for one last job before he can finally go home. The new team consists of Cobb, Arthur, Saito, a new dream architect named Ariadne, (Ellen Page) a forger named Eames (Tom Hardy, arguably the most enjoyable actor in the film) and a chemist named Yusuf. (Dileep Rao) The team will have to face seemingly insurmountable odds to plant the idea as well as dealing with Cobb’s ex wife Mal. (Played by the always stunning Marion Cotillard)
Many of you have guessed by now that Inception is not your typical summer fare; some people however were expecting something that you don’t have to think about, and they were severely disappointed.. One of the many brilliant things about Inception is that it treats the audience as if we have a mind; it doesn’t Michael Bay everything by throwing out explosions and busty women at us every five seconds like some summer blockbusters do; this is a film you’ll talk about and discuss, and if you see it with more than one person like I did all three times I watched it, it makes for wonderful post movie conversation. The notion of dreamscape in the film is explored in a more internally consistent way than most other films about questionable realities (save for Dark City, my favorite film of all time.) In Inception, the dialogue is handled in a way that feels natural, but also informative and the multiple levels of reality the characters function on at different times in the film can get a little confusing if you don’t pay attention, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most rational people.
As I’ve mentioned, the writing is a breath of fresh air. It’s not everyday that we see a big budget mainstream film that treats us as more than just amused by things that go boom and the talks in this film are pure Nolan; efficient, calculated but also very human and emotional. It’s a paradox for sure but it’s the mark of a truly great filmmaker. Make no mistake however the action set pieces are some of the best I’ve seen period; some of the extraordinary stunts, especially towards the climax of the film will have your jaw drop as your mind reels from all the poignant things going on. It’s a one of a kind experience that is further enhanced by the performances; Leonardo DiCaprio is wonderful, in a very vulnerable and saddened way and any scene with him and Marion Cotillard will make you run the gamut of emotions. Jospeh Gordon-Levitt is pitch perfect as the rigid Arthur, providing some of the films better moments with his deadpan humor. Nolan regulars Watanbe and Caine astound as Saito and Miles, Cobb’s father-in-law respectively, even if Caine has more of a bit part this time around. The scene stealer however, is Tom Hardy as Eames a wise cracking, cynical man after my own heart. Every time Hardy was onscreen I experienced everything from laughter to awe and with the rumors of Nolan adapting a Bond film, I wouldn’t mind seeing Hardy as the titular secret agent to save us from Daniel Craig…alas, I digress.
Christoper Nolan was quoted as saying that Inception harkens back to ‘that era of movies where you had The Matrix, you had Dark City, you had The Thirteenth Floor and, to a certain extent, you had Memento, too. They were based in the principles that the world around you might not be real,’ and every word of that quote is true. I don’t hand out five stars to films very often, especially Science Fiction films since as I mentioned my favorite film is a Sci Fi movie. Inception though, is an obvious exception; it stands tall with classics of the genre like Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Is it as good as Dark City in my mind? I won’t lie, it’s the closest a film has come since I saw Dark City all those years ago. I doubt I’ll find a film for the rest of year that’ll match up to this one. Am I a bit biased? Yeah, I admit it but with a film like this how could you not be?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac.
Read more of his work here.]