Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe
As far as cerebral, intelligent, and actually fun thrillers go, this one has got to be somewhere on that top 10 list. The ultimate exercise in original storytelling and creatively twisting genre tropes on their heads; ‘Inception’ clears the field for competition.
Released in 2010, this sci-fi thriller focuses on a group of thieves known as “extractors” – people who infiltrate a person’s mind while they are asleep, and steal the secrets of the unconscious subject. The leader of this group, Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), is on the run from governments and powerful corporations alike, until he gets an offer that will send him home. However, the job is near impossible – to plant an idea in rather than stealing one.
I understand there is a rarity in big-budget filmmaking for trying to incorporate realism into fantastical and epic stories, but what I think makes this movie so special is that it abides by a science. The science of physics and chemistry, and the components of dream psychology present in the film, all have roots in reality, which some action movies decide to throw out of the window in favour of bigger explosions. In this instance, the dedication to science just makes the epic, physics-defying fights all the more spectacular to look at. ‘Inception’ still has all these badass, fun, and explosive elements to the film, but it’s not thrown at the audience, nor forced down their throats. It has the strength to be able to rely on its script and the characters’ interactions with one another, and not just lean solely on the visuals, which are amazing, or its gunfights, also great.
The acting in this film perfectly services the story. It’s not too flashy, not too drab, but the cast has enough individual talent – enough so that I would call it a powerhouse of sorts – that letting each actor flow through their scenes works beautifully. Since none of the cast really has a flaw in their performance, the meticulous craftsmanship involved in simply building the fictional world that they exist in is enough of a backstory. Then, when the film does overload on exposition, it’s told in an interesting manner that doesn’t make the viewer feel like they’re attending a lecture, but rather learning, piece by piece. Although some scenes really do overload on explanation, it’s not a flaw in the story, but rather just the pacing. That’s not to say that the pacing is bad, per se, but it could be improved in some sections.
This brings me to my next point, which is the complexity of the story. I’ve seen this film at least 15 times since its initial release, and around viewing 5 or 6, I wasn’t confused by anything anymore, even whilst still discovering new things about the world and its machinations. I actually find ‘Inception’ to be a pretty linear story, but in the way that certain plot points are revealed, this film requires constant attention. If you aren’t enjoying ‘Inception’ because of its difficult story, I advise you to view as linearly as possible and pay lots of attention; the dots will connect themselves. However, if one can understand it the first time around, and seemingly grasp all the different ideas thrown about in the story, then you deserve a pat on the back, because this isn’t the easiest of films.
Aside from story and acting, the surrounding technical aspects are astonishing. The visual effects in this movie are still great 6 years after release, and the beautiful cinematography captures everything about this environment that makes it stunning. The score that accompanies the film is my favorite of all of Hans Zimmer’s work; it’s poignant, energizing, emotional, spellbinding, and above all, pleasant to listen to. The editing is consistent and fits the tone, and the dialogue actually matches with the character’s lips – which I’ve started to realise is a more common error than I previously thought. To put it simply, this film is a technical marvel.
I remember seeing this movie around July 2010, and this film set the movie-going population ablaze, having everyone in amazement. I am really glad this movie exists, and that it comes from none other than the incredible Christopher Nolan. He is one of the best working directors today, and I do not think this movie could’ve been executed better by anyone else if they tried. Let this movie never be sequel-ed or remade, please. It’s a golden treasure in this modern film world, and it should be a lesson to all aspiring filmmakers. If anyone hasn’t seen this yet, take this review as a call to action to watch what should be a classic film.