Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder whether Christopher Nolan will ever make a bad movie. It’s only been a month since I first heard about Inception, but when reading through the list of people involved with it, it had me psyched from that day until I saw it. Inception is a return to the roots, to Memento-style storytelling (very much so, in fact) – but the “hey-look-at-me-I’m-crashing-an-IMAX-cam-into-a-car” Nolan seems to have tagged along.
The concept is deviously easy, but incredibly smart: dreams. And not just dreams, but dreams within dreams. Within dreams. Within dreams. Right off the bat, you’re dropped into a insane, multilayered world existing solely in someone’s mind. You’re given a complicated set of rules in a very short time, and how well you understand them will enhance the movie. If you understand nothing, at least the characters will be cool; if you understand it all (highly unlikely on your first viewing, I think), then… just get out.
The story clearly shows the amount of polish and creativity involved in the project. A normal author would be telling the following: a man learns how to enter people’s dreams, then finds out you can make a dream within a dream. Something along those lines. In Inception, this is backstory. It doesn’t matter. What you get is what the third part of the trilogy would bring. The third part which is bound to fail because the first and second already established everything there is to know, making the third part just silly (Back to the future? The Matrix?). Because everything what happened before Inception (the development of entering dreams, for example) is unknown to us… the silliness is not silliness it all – it’s unbelievable.
But that’s not all. It has to be said: a lot of it is in the execution. Stuff moves: explosions, people getting shot at, cities crumbling… Inception is a roller coaster ride: it clocks at 148 minutes, yet I didn’t discover a single boring or empty moment. Something is happening at all times – even if it’s only a van falling off a bridge and taking 20 minutes to reach the water.
But there’s not just moving stuff. Marion Cautillard is in there somewhere too. That’s pretty much enough said: on an emotional level, Inception keeps it simple and clean. Nolan borrowed heavily from Memento here, using the concept of inception like he used Insulin: to explain the concept he wants to talk about (memory loss versus, well, inception), and then to explain the hero’s backstory wound. One of them, at least. It’s pretty simple, and I saw it coming, but if you say you’re watching this movie for the character drama, you’re in the wrong film.
These are the movies I like. I don’t care about whether or not stuff moves. I just want to see interesting characters in an unbelievable world where the sky (aka our imagination) is the limit. Inception is oozing with mathematical creativity. Everything’s been polished to a high degree and there’s a lot of food left for a second viewing. The characters might be pretty bland, but the great performances make them memorable nonetheless. And hey, surely you don’t want the characters taking precious time away from your splosions, right?