Monday, December 13, 2010

Inception: Grade C

Inception (2010)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Elen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger; Writer-Director Christopher Nolan.

DiCaprio is a corporate espionage thief who specializes in stealing secrets from people’s minds when they are dreaming. The technology for doing this is sketchy, involving some wires running from an aluminum attaché case to the wrists of the dreamer and the thief, along with implied training in lucid dreaming (although that term is never used). Teams of dream-thieves can wire up and dash about together in somebody’s dream, although, as in The Matrix, there is always some confusion about whether it is a dream or reality, and if a dream, whose dream it is. I was surprised that all the dream invaders could fall asleep and begin dreaming immediately upon sitting or lying down, an amazing skill.

The redemptive “final big job” for the head thief is to plant an idea in an executive’s dreaming mind, rather than steal one from it. So he hires a “dream architect” (Page) to establish the parameters of the target’s dream. That idea is nonsense, since everyone is the author of their own dreams, but this movie is full of nonsense. Lots of rules of dreaming are declared, such as, if you are killed in a dream, you wake up. If you lose your balance in reality, while dreaming, you wake up. There are dreams within dreams within dreams. And so on. And there are many assumptions that have to be accepted, such as that you remember all your dreams, that they are meaningful, and that they influence your waking life.

It is impossible to make sense out of the movie’s chaotic 2.5 hour narrative, but the point is the special effects anyway. The filmmakers can show absolutely anything and none of it has to make sense, because dreams don’t make sense. So streets turn upside down, sidewalks, buildings, and vehicles explode. Actually a lot of things explode. These characters all have very explosive dreams. Nonsense though it is, you will see things that you have never seen before on the screen.

The acting is notably poor by DiCaprio and Cotillard, but riveting by Page, who is completely compelling no matter what blither she is made to utter . Other standouts are Berenger and Murphy. The script is so banal that the actors have little to work with. You could enjoy the movie just watching the pictures with the sound off, since that is the only thing that keeps this movie afloat.

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