I don’t know of a single movie watcher who doesn’t think that Christopher Nolan is a talented director. I, personally, think of Christopher Nolan as a more tech-savvy Michael Mann. I could imagine Nolan directing a film like Heat, were it to somehow involve some kind of sci-fi element. He’s one of my favorite modern directors, and listening to him talk about filmmaking (especially his distaste for 3D) makes me respect the guy even more.
That being said, he’s not perfect. I really kind of hate Insomnia, the movie he did after his big breakthrough Memento. I love The Prestige and, obviously, his Batman films, but I do find that he needs to inject a little more humor and brevity into his movies. There’s very little human warmth and lightness to brighten up the intense emotions. Like I said, I still enjoy the films, but it would be nice to have some comedic relief in them.
Inception was released this past Friday with many critics already calling it the best film of the year. The commercial promises a big, stunning blockbuster full of action like we’ve never seen before. Does it live up to the high standards that Nolan has set with his previous movies? Or does a movie about robbing people’s minds while dreaming put its audience to sleep. Full review after the jump.
Inception tells the story of Cobb and his team of extractors – they go into people’s dreams (for a hefty price) and “extract” thoughts – that is, steal ideas and hidden truths, typically for large competing corporations. At the beginning of the movie, a job goes wrong and Cobb and his team are on the run from their last clients – not only that, they’ve been hired again to perform an “inception,” implanting an idea into someone’s head. The problem with inception is that it’s nigh impossible – you have to go deep, deep into someone’s dream state to implant an idea without them knowing they’re having an idea implanted.
First and foremost, Inception is an absolutely breathtaking motion picture. It may be the best looking movie this year – Nolan’s preference towards practical effects helps to make everything look more realistic, and the film is absolutely stunning. The commercial shows some great bits, but seeing them in the movie absolutely blew me away.
Inception is a damn good film – much like Nolan’s other works, it’s extremely well thought out and well written. You can tell some time went into making sure everything worked just right. The actors all put in solid jobs, if nothing spectacular. They’re all about as good as they need to be, without anyone really standing out from the rest.
But I wouldn’t go as far as other reviewers to say this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful, intense, and a great movie-going experience, but I wouldn’t say it’s as good as I was expecting, especially following The Dark Knight. Inception‘s main flaw, for me, is just as I mentioned above – it’s got smarts, it’s got skills…but it doesn’t really have heart. I didn’t care about any of the characters, and so many of them were so cold that it’s hard to warm up to them. I wouldn’t say they’re soulless, but they’re not really inviting either. The only emotion really present in the film is anger, or regret. It could have used a touch of warmth to make the emotional stakes a little higher.
What it ultimately amounts to is a high tech heist film inside of someone’s mind, which, again, makes for spectacular cinema, just not emotionally invested cinema. There’s quite a bit going on in Inception, and it definitely warrants repeat viewings. I just wish the characters had more chemistry together to make me more emotionally invested in the piece. As it is, it’s a technical masterpiece, and well worth seeing on the big screen.