Posted on 11/14/10 04:54 AM
How do you review a film that has already gained so much recognition with critics and movie-goers alike?
In any case it sort of becomes difficult when you fail to see what the excitement is all about! So when people approach you with that ga-ga look on their faces, "Have you seen Inception yet?? Tell me you have!" and are expecting an obvious, similarly exuberant reaction from you, you have to burst the bubble with that "I didn't think much of it, really" reply! I've had to do it several times in the past few months. And then they always give me that look which says: "Yeah..you must think you are too cool for it!"
But that isn't the case, of course! It simply didn't work for me as much as it did for the majority of film buffs.
So it was back then when "Inception" was just released and making waves all over the world that I decided to give it a shot as it was playing at several theaters in my city, which is a rarity when it comes to movies that are really good and worthwhile.
And so it began, and it really did hold my attention for the first one hour or so, but that is all it really did. So we are introduced to a world (the time or year or century isn't really mentioned) where quite a few people, even seemingly ordinary human beings, with a little bit of training, are capable of entering each others' subconscious when they dream by simply sedating themselves and the subjects. They also manage to create, edit, delete and manipulate practically anything within that dream world. And all this is done by a seemingly simple technique in which some wires and cables that emerge from a small device in a briefcase are simply 'plugged' on to the person!
At the center of this sci-fi action drama is Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who along with his accomplice Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) specializes in "extracting" some secrets hidden deep in the minds of his subjects.
Cobb is in the process of doing so with one Japanese business tycoon, Saito (Ken Watanabe) when he is interrupted by the manifestation, in his own mind, of his dead wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), and his mission fails. This happens on quite a few occassions apparently as we see in the rest of the movie. So Mal in turn acts as a ghostly being who turns the mission over its head, although mind you, she is only a "projection" created by Cobb's own subconscious. Reasons as to why she becomes a big distraction and weakens Cobb's mission is made clear only later.
Now it turns out that this Saito is actually only auditioning Cobb and his partner for the real mission which is "Inception" in which he is supposed to "plant an idea" in the mind of his target, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), who is the only son of Saito's business rival, Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite) who is soon going to die because of a terminal illness. The mission is to infuse the idea into Robert's mind to convince his father to break up his empire. Saito, being a very powerful man, in turn promises to clear Cobb's name of the murder charges on him and arrange to send him back to his children in the United States. To perform his task, Cobb forms a small team, comprising of:
1. A forger, Eames (Tom Hardy) who is so skilled a forger that he can even change his appearance to match that of any other person inside dreams (!!)
2. Yusuf (Dileep Rao) an expert sedative chemist
3. Ariadne (Ellen Page), a student who with some surprisingly little training quickly becomes the "architect" and learns to "design" some "sets" on paper which can be "projected" into the dream-world which ultimately becomes the "place" where the mission will take place!
So with such dream-come-true (pun intended) skills that these characters already have, the film-makers are free to show on screen just about anything. What the film-makers mean to convey to us is, that as an audience, you would be stupid not to suspend your disbelief, because it is given to you in the beginning that certain things have to be taken for granted.
The film then follows the trials and tribulations of this small army along with Saito as they march on to complete the mission in multiple levels of the subconscious of several individuals, with all characters performing several challenging tasks in each level at the same time. Some of these tasks also involve going to war with a whole army of machine-gun wielding soldiers in some unknown snow-laden lands!
I am a fan of several other films where events do not strictly adhere to the real world. So, while I am not against the use of unreal concepts in films, with "Inception", Nolan took things a bit too far and has just taken for granted and expects that his audience will suspend all disbelief and just give in and simply lap up and digest what he is feeding them in the name of something "different" in the sci-fi genre.
So while most people would maintain that the concept and premise of "Inception" is 'mind-blowing', or 'brilliant' or 'out-of-this-world' and other adjectives, it just comes across as an amateurish video game fantasy world to me. For a while it also reminded me of a boogieman called Fred Krueger who enters people's dreams and kills them in the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" series of very bad horror movies. Only at least Freddie was a supernatural being and not an ordinary human being like in "Inception".
Also, after a point of time, all the long-drawn-out action scenes, and the plenty of car chases and explosions, which seem to go on endlessly, test the patience of the viewer. And while that is not happening, the characters take their own sweet time to converse in scenes that seem to completely spoon-feed and explain to the audience as to what they are going to do in the next scene and whose subconscious they plan to enter in order to achieve what! So please don't tell me that the plot is "confusing" or "complex", as everything is very clearly explained and there are no ambiguities and nothing is left to imagination. Hence there is very little chance that one may need to re-watch it to fully fathom it.
I had high expectations from "Inception", no doubt. What I ended up getting was yet another heavy duty pop-corn action flick (with some scenes that bring to mind "The Matrix"), disguised as a highly intellectual science fiction film with lots of mumbo-jumbo pertaining to the subconscious mind and some lame comic relief provided by the characters, even in dreams!
About the performances:
Leonardo DiCaprio acts extremely well and has certainly come a long way from his "Titanic" days.
Marion Cottilard follows suit.
Joseph Gordon Levitt seems terribly miscast.
Ellen Page doesn't do much except look cute.
Tom Hardy does well.
Dileep Rao, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy are alright.
Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite and the great Michael Caine are wasted.
On the up-side, there are some positive aspects worthy of beholding in this chaotic film: Dicaprio's fine performance, the booming soundtrack during the action scenes which is outstanding and raises the energy level of the proceedings and of the audiences, and of course, the special effects which are breathtaking.
With all the polish he has applied to "Inception" to make it look good on the outside, Christopher Nolan, still doesn't live up to the standards of sheer story-telling splendour that he set with his first two films, "Following" and "Memento" which remain his best works to date.
I've nothing against this film being very highly regarded; everyone is entitled to their opinion. "Inception" will surely appeal to a majority of movie-buffs and also to people who don't watch many movies, but it saddens me when I read statements like "Inception is worthy of being placed right up there with 2001: A Space Odyssey"!