Inception has been one of my most anticipated movies for 2010, and the bar for my expectations was incredibly high. I am exceedingly happy to say that director and writer Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Memento) did not fail to deliver above and beyond what I expected. From start to finish every aspect of Inception is remarkable and breathtaking, from the score, pacing, and effects to the acting, dialogue, and concept. It joins together all the best aspects of almost every genre (suspense/thriller, action, romance, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, and a touch of horror) but combines it with an ensemble of super bad-ass yet believable characters that take on incredibly unorthodox protagonist/antagonist roles to create a truly unique screenplay that can be enjoyed despite/because of its complexities by all. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, if you have any doubt in your mind it means you haven’t seen it yet. And seriously: don’t miss this.
I think that if I allowed myself I could probably gush about every aspect of this film, but I will try to keep this short so I will attempt to only talk about up to three of the more important things about it I can think of: the relationship between Inception’s screenplay and the pacing of scenes, the acting, and the effects.
Christopher Nolan’s screenplay is masterful, and the thing that impresses me most about it is the way in which he is able to weave together different plots in different settings while maintaining very believable characters who exist in all of them simultaneously. And he manages to do this without compromising his strong concepts, especially when it came to the rate of time passing in each of the simultaneous scenarios. He manages to do this especially via pacing, both with cuts and with real-time versus slo-mo. I won’t say more than that; those who’ve seen it know what I mean, and those who haven’t simply must see it for themselves!
A screenplay is nothing though without those who would deliver its dialogue, and Inception is certainly not lacking in the cast department. There is not one weak link in the film; everyone in it delivers nothing less than their best. Cillian Murhpy plays arrogant perfectly, and has an incredibly tender and beautiful scene towards the end with Pete Postlethwaite. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy together have a great but subtle chemistry; I’m excited to keep on eye on the both of them and their future roles from here on out. Ellen Page, who I’m not a particularly huge fan of in the first place, does remarkably well in this movie and (this was surprising to me) is not eclipsed by the action and high profiles surrounding her. For me though, the two stand-out roles were Leonardo Dicaprio and Marion Cotillard. Although Leonardo is a huge household name and is completely recognizable in Inception, the magic of his acting lies in the fact that he is a complete chameleon; Leo becomes Cobb through and through, and the caliber of his acting leaves no room for the audience to question this. Cotillard is beautiful as always, but is above all powerful in her performance as she juggles the loneliness, madness, and furiousness of her character Mal. Together Marion and Leo are a force to be reckoned with.
Lastly, the effects. The effects are present from start to finish of the movie, and sometimes they seem to permeate every scene. But the thing that keeps the effects in Inception fresh, new, and so believable are their authenticity. This authentic feel springs from the fact that so much of the movie is not done with a computer, but rather were done with actors playing out intricate fight scenes in real time in real sets; the overwhelming energy of each scene is easily translated because the actors were really slipping, sliding, banging and fighting most of the time. For example, consider the hotel hallway scene (pictured below):
“To pull off the scenes, multiple hotel sets were constructed in a converted airship hanger north of London, most notably, a more than 100-foot hotel corridor that was able to rotate 360 degrees with the help of eight concentric rings, 30-feet in diameter, which surrounded the set. Capable of spinning up to eight revolutions per minute, the centripetal hallway was powered by two giant 225-kilowatt electric motors (the equivalent of two new Mercedes S350 V-6 engines). Working with stunt coordinator Tom Struthers, another “Dark Knight” veteran, Gordon-Levitt and the other stuntmen rehearsed within the rotating sets for over two weeks.
To create the effect of zero gravity, several other sets were constructed: vertical sets; horizontal sets; upside down sets; at the same time, the “weightless” actors were hung on wires, or supported by rigid poles like big Popsicle sticks, or even laid down in fiberglass molds built to fit their bodies.
One particular challenge for the sequence was a scene in which Arthur takes five weightless sleeping bodies, wraps a chord around them, and floats them down the hall into an elevator. “How did we do it?” Corbould asks. “Chris has sworn ourselves to secrecy on that one.””
And that’s just one particular set of action sequences in one of the simultaneously occurring plots!
Inception is simply the best new movie out there, and is officially a favorite of mine.
My rating: 10/10
^More or less how I felt during the last 45 minutes of Inception. Maryann pretty much covered everything, and I agree completely with her review, so for now I’ll just leave it at that. I may add a write-up later, but needless to say I thought it was amazing.