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2 Aug 2010

Movie Review: Inception

I'm going to be honest, when I learnt Nolan was directing Inception, I was expecting big things from it. And i mean REALLY big things, after all, The Dark Knight is one of my personal favourite films.

The storyline in inception revolves around the cast of 6 "extractors" (people who make dreams and enter the subject into it, with the main priority of stealing an idea) who have to do something different by trying Inception. This is planting something in somebody's head rather than stealing an idea. In this case, the idea is to get an heir to a large energy company (Robert Fischer, played by the ever-more-noticable Cillian Murphy) to break up his father's company to stop it becoming a monopoly. A group of 6 members (including Cobb, the main character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ariadne, the creator of the dream, played by Ellen Page) undertake this knowing that it is near-impossible. So, why try it? Because Cobb has been on the run after the death of his wife, Mal, and by planting the idea, Saito (who hired the group on extractors) will let Cobb join his children again.  However, as predictable as it is, things don't quite go according to plan. I won't reveal too much because the plot is quite intricate and me mentioning anything here can lead to you thinking up more plotlines for yourself, which may ruin it. On the whole, the plotline for Inception is good. Not great, just good. Why not great? The twist, as expected as it is, is far too predictable for Cobb's personal storyline. I've seen the film twice now and both times I couldn't help but think that director Nolan just didn't put his full effort in. I know he can do better than this. The second problem with the plotline is that some may find it confusing. At its core, you understanding the entire plotline will hinge on if you were paying attention to one scene about a third of the way through where the team are talking through problems on how to do inception and how to overcome them. As the film ends up with a dream in a dream in a dream, if you didn't quite get that scene, then you may find yourself questioning their motives, purely because you didn't understand. However, I know I havn't given the plotline the best of reviews, yet overall, it is enjoyable. Without giving too much away, the final scene leaves you wanting more, which very few films have made me do.

However, at its core, the film is a twist on the action-heist film. So, congratulations Christopher Nolan, you deserve praise for achieving this VERY well. On the action side, this film has some of the best action scenes I have seen in a while. Scenes vary from a zero-gravity punch up in a hotel, and a car shoot-out interrupted by a train. Yes, a freakin' train in the middle of the street. Inception is a non-stop action extravaganza and I loved every second of it. On the action front, this is where Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who plays Arthur, Cobb's second-in-command, as far as i gathered anyway) and Tom Hardy (who played Eames, the group's thief). Joseph shines as a great action star in this film, leading the way for many other action scenes later on in the film. Definately one of his defining films (unlike G.I. Joe). Tom Hardy (of Bronson and Rock 'n' Rolla fame) does the complete opposite of what I would have expected. Rather than being the butchy action star stereotype (a la Jason Statham or Bruce Willis), he provided the humour, including witty one liners and memorable actions. As a heist film, however, it doesn't shine so much. This is because of the sometimes confusing plotline. However, it will always be at the back of your mind the target that they need to achieve, mainly because you need to keep this in mind to try to understand the plot.

Now, the music in a film like this really adds to the emphasis, and in this context, Hans Zimmer has done well. The music throughout kept with the pace fine, and complimented the action on screen. However, it didn't really stick out as much as it could. In this way, it was a bit of a wasted opportunity, but good nevertheless. However, Chris Nolan. Chris, Chris, Chris Nolan. Famous for being one of the few directors able to mix great action scenes with great storylines. And this film is no exception. However, the cinematography really shines in this film. One of the main concepts is that time in the dream travels faster than time in real life. This is filmed very effectively by showing the dream at normal speed, but slowing down the shot in the real world, thus having the desired effect of showing how time changes. The cinematography also shines with constantly dynamic camera angles, complementing the action scenes with much needed haste. However, what would a film like this be without amazing special effects? Notable scenes include a city bending back (it becomes clearer in the film) and constant gravity shifts.These scenes, quite frankly, will leave you breathless.

Finally, the cast includes some of the best I have seen (rivalled only by the upcoming The Expendables). It includes Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic), Ellen Page (Juno), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (G.I. Joe), Tom Hardy (Bronson), Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins) and Cillian Murphy (also Batman Begins). They do perfectly well, all playing their parts with great chemistry with each other and each making the acting seem as normal as possible (except for Tom Berenger as Fischer's godfather, who overplays his part). Yet, the real star is Tom Hardy, providing the great ol' British Charm that many american-made films lack. He plays Eames perfectly, providing most of the film's humour and action, as well as being the most lovable character in the film.

Overall, this film has been a great success for Nolan. The film plays out like a Nolan film should do: action scene followed by tense story scene, followed by another action scene, which is made immediately obvious by the opening sequence. Yet I wouldn't have it any other way. The film is a great film to see with a group of mates if you want a laugh, and it will provide a good discussion after to see who managed to understand why they ended up going into 3 dreams. Yet, your enjoyment of the film entirely depends on how you well understand the plot. If you understand it, it it a thrill ride worth taking, and as good as Nolan's previous effort: The Dark Knight. If you don't, then it is just an above-average action film with amazing special effects.

Total Score: 8 out of 10

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