This is big, confidant film making. I hadn’t seen Inception in a while and whilst I remembered that it’s an excellently cast and highly stylish heist film, I had forgotten about its self-assurance. Take the first half of the film; tons of explanatory and world building information is reeled off here, and yet what should be tedious is kept impressively entertaining with a mix of humour, action, and intriguing details. I can understand why some would have a problem with this approach; endless exposition is hardly a recommended route when writing a screenplay, but Inception consistently comes across as a bold filmmaker working against the rules and then succeeding in making his approach work.
Inception’s premise; that dream sharing is possible and thus has become a lucrative opportunity for subconscious targeting, information stealing thieves, allows the film to play with some pretty interesting ideas, but it’s with the visual representation of dreams that the film really goes to town. Multiple set pieces are ambitiously experimented with due to their dream-world settings, and the film’s visual effects team took this licence granted to them and went out of their way to create some very memorable sequences. Han Zimmer’s powerful and now very recognisable score takes these moments and lifts them from what would have been merely big, into the realm of epic. It’s a seriously impressive piece of work. Nolan’s ability to direct action sequences has improved no end, the jump between this and The Dark Knight is impressive to say the least, and he makes full use of this new found ability most notably in a hallway fight sequence which is a particular highlight. A word also has to be said for the costume department who also outdid themselves, everyone looks excellent in this film.
Inception’s not overly complex; the issue is more a matter of determining which characters are where due to an unusual form of simultaneous action. Ellen Page represents the audience; her occasional questions clarify details because, whilst I maintain that it’s not the brain twister that it’s often described as, there are times where you will have to pay attention. The film rarely dwells over the multiple possibilities that dream sharing could hold, but rather zips down a specifically outlined path and closes off any other options. It’s a shame in some ways that we couldn’t have the world of possibilities left a little more open to us but I understand that that approach would not serve the film well; it has so much to communicate already for the plot to work, that opening it all up would rip the film apart.
This is one of those films which needs to be seen on as big and as powerful a system as possible – a cinema rerelease would be a no brainier here. In fact I would leap at the opportunity to see a 3D conversion of Inception, and whilst that is very unlikely considering director Christopher Nolan’s stance on this area, it would make for some really spectacular moments.
Inception manages to take the intricacy from Memento and blend that with an epic scope and feel that’s above and beyond any of Nolan’s other work. The fact that these two potentially conflicting elements are worked together so well, and that the film still winds up feeling so unusually neat and well-rounded, is perhaps Inception’s greatest strength. I came away from the film seriously impressed, it’s a very good example of blending an action and an ideas based film together, there are quite a few out there which attempt this but few achieve a balance as well as Inception does. Ultimately it’s a very entertaining thriller which succeeds at being both funny and moving, and which presents us with an extremely absorbing twist on the heist formula. It’s not an all out action film, neither is it a deeply concept driven film but instead sits comfortably in some sort of middle ground, neither claiming, nor needing to be one or the other.