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Inception (2010)

July 19, 2010

9/10 Heavy Sleepers

As expected, freakin’ brilliant.

In following with the refreshingly cryptic ad campaign, all I can really tell you about Inception without giving anything away or confusing the hell out of you doesn’t actually amount to a whole lot. The CliffsNotes rundown is that it’s about a guy who specializes in jumping into people’s dreams, manipulating their subconscious and with the help of his trusty colleagues manages to extract their deepest secrets for the highest bidder.

It’s kinda like The Matrix mixed with Ocean’s Eleven and some of the more surreal aspects of Brazil, but when push comes to shove, it is all Chris Nolan.

Being that everyone on Earth has seen The Dark Knight by now, I’m just gonna go ahead and assume we all know at least that much about our director of the hour, but if that’s all your going off of, you really owe it to yourself to start getting familiar. I’m not sure how much fanboy praise I’ve thrown at the guy on this site, but make no mistake, Chris Nolan may very well be the best working director out there right now and is without a doubt one of the best storytellers we’ve got. It’s not often you see Hollywood fat cats dish out obscene amounts of money to a film maker, tell him to “Go nuts!” and give him free reign to do whatever the hell he wants because he’s that damn good every single time.

Folks, his track record speaks for itself, and while Inception isn’t quite on par with Memento (then again, what is?), it’s nothing short of exhilarating to have something so original and mind-blowing like this to break up the mass amount of weak-ass shit I’ve had to put up with and spend money on all year. Tim Burton, I hope you’re listening.

But before I turn this into Mr. Nolan’s unauthorized biography, let’s take a minute to look at the cast.

Playing Dom Cobb – our dream-killer number one – is Leonardo DiCaprio. Now, I don’t know what it’s gonna take for me really get on the “Leo is one mean mother effer” bandwagon with the rest of modern society outside of volunteering for a lobotomy, but with that being said, he’s getting better. As with everyone else here, he’s got a pretty cool demeanor about him and he’s apparently been working on his ability to get crazy intense without having to burst a vein in his face, so that’s a plus that carries well throughout. Still longing for the days of Catch Me If You Can and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, but since beggars can’t be choosers, can’t do much to knock him this time. Good enough character, good enough acting.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is totally boss as usual as Dom’s right-hand man, Arthur, and the one guy I still can’t shut up about is Tom Hardy as the team’s muscle, Eames. Man, Tom Hardy is such a badass, he was the bomb in Bronson, he is gonna be an out of sight Mad Max and he quickly establishes himself as the one to watch in this little number from the second he shows up on screen. That guy deserves to get famous, asap.

But the big problem with Dom Cobb and the rest of the gang here is that they really aren’t all that interesting. Yes, they have wardrobes that make the Mad Men cast look like mole people and they do dish out a hefty amount of ass-whuppery from start to finish, but that only goes so far. The only exception of the bunch when it comes to breaking through this third-dimention of character development is Marion Cotillard’s solid turn as Dom’s wife, Mal, who easily has the most interesting and affected storyline to work with.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I had such a hard time connecting with these characters since I walked out of the theater a couple days ago, and the one thing I keep coming back to is “inception” itself. The thing with this movie is that it’s essentially a vehicle for an idea – an absolutely fantastic idea at that – and while the protagonists who’ve turned this idea into a way of life are interesting enough, everyone is just kinda playing their part to see how far Nolan can take it. We’re given a lot of time to get to know them and there’s a whole lot of set-up in regards to laying out the laws and limitations of this carte blanche world, but I guess it’s just so easy to get caught up in the restrictions and possibilities of the physics of our unconscious that it becomes hard to get caught up in the lives of the far less interesting chums who populate it. I don’t know, that’s just my take. Discuss amongst yourselves.

But from the hauntingly epic score to the endless array of jaw-dropping visuals that continually made me wonder “How did they do that without the help of NASA?” to the bittersweet truth that Chris Nolan might be the only A-list director our there who has the balls and brains big enough to pull something like this off, I could gush about this movie more than anyone could care to read. This is one of those movies that needs to be experienced first-hand, a movie that’s so meticulously crafted on every front to surprise and astound us that it should come as a surprise to no one that the script took ten years on-and-off to come together, a movie that will trounce all your hype and expectations into a cocaine-like powder no matter how long you wait to see it, and even if I kept writing ’til carpal tunnel set in and told you about every single scene this baby has to offer, you still wouldn’t get it and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Look, it’s not perfect, it doesn’t really have a whole lot to say outside of “What if…?” nor does it tap into an emotional context the way it does cerebrally, but very rarely do I ever watch a movie and find myself thinking “Wow” let alone saying it out loud. Even if it is just a way to play around with this head trip of an idea for two-and-a-half hours, there is so much here to marvel at and enjoy that the flaws end up falling to the wayside as you’re trying to remind your lungs how to breathe. Inception truly is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and if I’m gonna make heads or tails out of all these metaphysical conversations I’ve been having since Friday, I’m gonna need to see it again. Woe is me.

Great, great ending, too. My theater couldn’t have been the only one that collectively gasped when those credits started rolling.

62 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2010 12:11 am

    Just saw this about 3 hours ago. Freakin amazing!! I loved almost every single second of this!! Nolan is going to be considered as one of the best directors of all-time now, and I will stand by and say, yes, I have to also agree.

    • July 19, 2010 8:02 am

      Right there with on the legend of Nolan. Dude’s doing alright for himself.

  2. July 19, 2010 12:26 am

    I can’t wait to go watch this!
    Everyday that I don’t see it is another day that my mind wonders and turns itself upside down trying to figure out what the fuck is going on in the commercials.

    • July 19, 2010 8:03 am

      hahaha, don’t even bother trying to make sense of it, hard enough getting it all straight when it’s actually explained to you. good stuff though, man.

  3. July 19, 2010 12:53 am

    Not perfect is right… but pretty damn close! Just talked about it on MILFcast which was hard to do without giving anything up. I’d say it lived up to he hype!

    • July 19, 2010 8:04 am

      Yeah, I can imagine doing a spoiler-free podcast on this would be quite the undertaking. Well done, good sir.

  4. July 19, 2010 2:37 am

    Your theatre was not the only one that let out some sort of vocal expression. I saw it at midnight in IMAX. During the last shot, half the people were shouting “Fall”, the other’s were all like, “It’s not gonna fall! Oh man.”, then the screen went black, and every single person in that IMAX, 200+ people, let out a collective “AGGGHHHH”! Awesome!

    This movie was pure, awesome, brilliance! I didn’t find the characters shallow at all. I thought they were deep enough. Tom Hardy was a total BAMF! Joseph Gordon-Levitt stole the show and had the coolest scene! That fight in the tumbling hallway was sheer amazingness! I’m still at a loss as to how the zero-G stuff in the second dream when the they were in free fall in the first dream! I also love how Nolan created that avalanche in the simplest way, by blowing up a mountain! That’s how action should be done, the real thing. Too much CG these days! Nolan is leading the charge! Viva la revolucion!

    • July 19, 2010 8:06 am

      Totally agree about the bare bones action awesomeness, more folks really need to follow suit. JGL totally had the best scene though, that was the biggest “WOW” moment for me.

      And whaddaya think: it toppled or it didn’t topple?

      • July 19, 2010 2:04 pm

        It actually toppled and tumbled. I saw a behind the scenes thing a few weeks ago, and, in one shot, you can see the hallway set the shot in in the background, hooked up to some machine, tumbling all over the place. I have to imagine that it was a total blast shooting that scene! I wish I was JGL some days. 😦

      • July 20, 2010 9:35 am

        Truer words were never spoken.

  5. Darren permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:53 am

    Loved it. Beautifully put together film. I’m glad to hear that being vocal in cinemas isn’t just an Irish thing (in fact, I’ve heard that audience noises are much more common stateside).

    • July 19, 2010 8:07 am

      Stateside, noisy audiences aren’t anything new, but it’s unusual to have them just kinda rooting or playing along like they did here. That was awesome. What a great way to end the movie.

  6. July 19, 2010 4:16 am

    I like the Love for Hardy – the dude’s been snowballing for the last few years but this is an excellent break for him. Ellen Page was the only character I didn’t really care for from the whole bunch, everyone else had a motive but she was pretty 1D.

    My favourite bit was the zero-G corridor fight scene. Heard that Nolan deliberately wanted as much of the surroundings to be real so the actors could interact with it… therefore that corridor is a FULL SIZE REPLICA ON A FRICKING MASSIVE RIG TO TURN IT ROUND THE MIDDLE AXIS.

    • July 19, 2010 8:10 am

      Hardy is the effing man. Dude is hardcore, this should definitely put him on the map. And you’re dead on about the cardboard Page, and it wasn’t really her fault either. Found it strange that she was the only one who really managed to get inside Cobb’s head, just wasn’t a strong character to begin with.

      Had a feeling that the only way they could have done that scene was if they actually turned it around with the actors inside. That is so insane though. Jesus, keep on giving Nolan money. We need to see more shit like that.

  7. July 19, 2010 4:25 am

    I think it’s safe to say this is the best movie of the summer (action wise, I speak not for other genres and other tastes).

    JGL and Hardy should’ve gotten more quarreling scenes. They are brilliant together.

    • July 19, 2010 8:12 am

      Yeah, JGL and Hardy were a solid duo and they were damn good at jacking people up. Definitely think this is the movie to beat this Summer.

  8. July 19, 2010 8:04 am

    When I hit a blog and see Snake Plissken front and centre in the masthead, I know I’ve come to the right place. This is an excellent review (spoilers avoided), and I can’t wait to see it (hasn’t come out here in Aust yet)

    • July 19, 2010 8:13 am

      hahaha. thanks, man. when does it come out down there? is everyone chomping at the bit like I was?

  9. Uncle Fran permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:01 am

    Aiden, I hear people saying you were the one who planted the idea for this movie in Nolans head.

  10. July 19, 2010 11:13 am

    The ending was so predictable I thought, Nolan trying to make his movie appear to be “deeper” than it really is. Problem is the film itself doesn’t prove itself as warranting this kind of deeper analysis. At the end of the day, it was a very good summer blockbuster, I was somewhat disappointed that it couldn’t be more than that. A B+ (8/10) in my book.

    • July 19, 2010 11:24 am

      I feel like I should have seen the ending coming, but for some reason I was totally shocked when the screen went black. I thought it was pretty deep on an intellectual level but pretty superficial on an emotional level. Definitely a great Summer blockbuster, nice to have something of this scale and caliber that actually makes you think.

  11. July 19, 2010 12:01 pm

    “Yes, they have wardrobes that make the Mad Men cast look like mole people”


  12. July 19, 2010 12:39 pm


  13. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    July 19, 2010 1:38 pm

    sounds like we’re in a agreement. shallow characters being moved around in a very interesting, visually stunning story.

    i think Page did her best, but her character had absolutely no history or personality quirks at all. though, if looked at in a certain way, that could make sense…depending on your interpretation of the movie. her character’s name, ariadne, is a greek goddess that led Theseus out of the labyrinth, which is essentially the function she was serving in this movie…and maybe in a certain character’s mind…?

    • July 20, 2010 9:39 am

      Yeah, I’m usually a big fan of Page, and while she isn’t bad here, you’re right, she’s probably the best example of everything that’s so stagnant about these characters. Interesting factoid about her name though, surprised I didn’t look it up because I’ve been trying to remember how to pronounce it since walking out of the theater. Makes sense in regards to her role in the grand scheme of things.

  14. July 19, 2010 4:57 pm

    I just saw this last night and WOW, I was baffled out of my wits, but yet… I was mesmerized! The ending is something else, isn’t it? I was riled up by it, I mean how dare he just stop before we know what happens with the totem?! But afterwards I think, well I wouldn’t want it any other way, would I? You don’t go into Nolan’s flicks expecting that he ties his movie with a pretty red bow or spoon feed us a neat conclusion. The beauty of this is the endless discussion afterwards, and yes it’s nice that we actually get to use our brain cells for a change 🙂

    On a side note, what’s with the name… Dom Cobb, Mal Cobb?? So together they’d be Dom-Mal Cobb? Good thing they’re an attractive couple!

    • July 20, 2010 9:43 am

      Yeah, I’m much happier not knowing if it topples, totally didn’t see that coming. And I HATE the name Dom Cobb, just doesn’t roll off the tongue, feels like I’m saying the same name twice. Glad someone else finally brought that up.

      • July 20, 2010 10:15 am

        Cobb was the name of a character in Nolan’s debut, “Following.” Maybe it’s self-allusion…

      • July 20, 2010 10:17 am

        Interesting, started watching that the other day but got distracted halfway through. Need to sit down and watch it uninterrupted this week.

  15. July 20, 2010 10:14 am

    Tim Burton?
    EVERY director needs to be taking notes.

    • July 20, 2010 10:16 am

      hahaha, agreed. was just trying to think of the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year and Alice in Wonderland came to mind. hence Tim, even though he’s usually pretty awesome.

  16. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    July 20, 2010 2:34 pm

    I liked the ending as well, although I saw it coming. Actually, I was rather surprised when everyone in the theater gasped. I mean, Christopher Nolan NEVER gives you a gift-wrapped ending!

    • July 20, 2010 2:37 pm

      You’re totally right, and in retrospect, I really should have seen that coming. Idk what it was, but it took me for a loop. Was spending so much time trying to wrap my head around stuff that had already happened that I wasn’t even thinking about what in the hell was waiting ahead for me.

  17. July 21, 2010 10:35 am

    I’m with you on the undeveloped characters. I could never connect with them and that was my core problem of the film. I think the film also spends way too much time explaining everything to us when it could just show us instead.

    And as for Nolan being the best current director, I think you need to catch up with Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky and del Toro.

    • July 21, 2010 10:41 am

      Agree with you on the drawn out setup, that took way too long, wish it had left it more ambiguous for the audience to figure out. At the same time, it’s hard enough to figure everything out on the first go even with it explained.

      And I’m with you on Aronofsky, not so much del Toro (need to see Pan’s Labyrinth again, was one of the few who wasn’t crazy about it the first time around, but Devil’s Backbone was really good) and I have yet to fall in love with Anderson even though he clearly knows what he’s doing. Nolan’s just a phenomenal storyteller is all, might not have the visual flair of these three directors, but it’s always something new and amazing with the guy and I stand by my statement. Will keep you updated though.

  18. July 21, 2010 11:03 am

    uh, can I be the first to admit I totally missed the ending?
    yes, i suck.
    really enjoyed it though.

    • July 21, 2010 11:10 am

      haha, how did you miss it? it’s okay though, i forgive you, glad you dug it all the same.

  19. July 21, 2010 1:00 pm

    how did i miss it? cos i didnt pay attention i guess. still thought the film was great
    i dont understand She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, but its a great song.

    • July 21, 2010 1:04 pm

      That’s deep, homey. Think it’s about some chick who comes in through the bathroom window and gets herself a steady job, but then again, those guys did a lot of drugs.

  20. July 21, 2010 8:33 pm

    How did I miss your frickin’ awesome review of this earlier?

    I am still a bit confused though, Aiden…did you like it or not? I feel like you are holding back 🙂

  21. Branden permalink
    July 22, 2010 8:21 pm

    I’m not understanding how could someone think the characters are not developed enough and still give it an exorbitant rating. If you are uninterested in the characters being archetypes, wouldn’t that hurt the rest of the movie?

    • July 23, 2010 8:10 am

      The thing is, the characters aren’t bad, it’s not that I didn’t like them, I just wish they had been fleshed out more so that I could better connect with them. At the same time, even with so-so characters, the appeal to Inception (for me at least) is about more than just the characters, it’s about bringing this uncharted concept to life in continually stunning and mindblowing new ways that kept me glued to the screen from start to finish. The characters do seem like a vehicle of sorts for all this, but in the end, I can live with that in light of everything else that made me shit my pants in astonishment.

  22. Matt permalink
    July 29, 2010 11:07 pm

    Does anyone on here not like this movie ? It was awful. And if I see another comment on the web comparing this Nolan guy to Kubrick ill hunt them down. Matrix was shite, Inception was shite. Another American attempt at a Bond movie infused with some psychobabble. Stop reading your comics and take some LSD, and realise that Dicaprio should have stayed on Shutter Island – a good movie.

    • July 30, 2010 7:53 am

      Hahaha, I know a handful of others who weren’t crazy about it, but no one’s fallen on the “awful” spectrum yet. So hey, stick to those guns, man. We could use a naysayer around these parts to balance out all the love if you ask me. I don’t know about the whole Bond comparison, but I’d love to hear more. And geez, Shutter Island is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Got lampooned by my family for not flat-out worshipping that movie. To each his own, homey, and thanks for visiting!

    • jason from uk permalink
      August 8, 2010 8:49 pm

      i agree , it was shite mate

  23. Charlotte permalink
    August 6, 2010 2:51 pm

    I’ll be honest, I loved it! Totally agree about Tom Hardy, him and JGL were the ones I rooted for, and pretty happy to find someone else doesn’t think Dicaprio is brilliance personified! In fact I pretty much agree with most of your reviews so I shouldn’t be surprised! Kinda saw the ending coming but hoped he wouldn’t do it to us so instead of a gasp I may have sworn quite loud. And Shutter Island, well it wasn’t exactly great was it? the music, the obvious twist, the messing with the book’s perfect ending, Leo’s face… Anyway got sidetracked- Basically your reviews are awesome!

    • August 6, 2010 3:02 pm

      Hahaha, thanks a ton and thanks for visiting! Glad to find someone else who didn’t flat-out crap themselves over how good Shutter Island was, could have sworn I was That Guy for a while there. For some reason I totally didn’t see that Inception ending coming, but thinking how the crowd would have reacted if the scene actually played out, it wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome a note to end on. Good stuff, huh?

  24. jason from uk permalink
    August 8, 2010 8:47 pm

    are you all for real , this movie was average at best , it borrowed from “solaris” , “dark city” and “blade runner” all of wich are much better movies than this overhyped shite , it was not deep, it did not leave you guessing , it wasnt a complicated story you had to keep your eyes on the screen or else you would get lost , it was a simple storyline with a shit obvious ending.

    overhyped crap as usual , anybody who thinks this is original needs to watch more movies and read a few books.

    and for the record , I think it would have been better if leos wife in the movie was atually right and that his life was illusion and hers was the real life , that would have been a better ending than staying in the matrix because you dont care anymore, cmon we have seen this shit too many times , this movie sucked so much and was a blatent rip off of so many movies.

    the architect character , is from “the matrix”
    the whole making up the world as you imagine it ” dark city ”
    the wife as a ghost or is she ” solaris”
    the question of are you real or not and the spinning top”blade runner”
    jumping into peoples dreams “the cell” and countless other movies

    blade runner is a much better movie
    dark city is a much better movie
    solaris is a much better movie

    inception was an average movie directed by a very well respected director, it was not new and original , it was just an average movie rip off of all the movies I have mentioned.

    rant over
    stop the hype , be judgmental , watch more films .

    • August 12, 2010 11:08 am

      well i thought it was pretty good. and i dig that it borrows from all those kickass movies and fits it into one two-hour space. not a perfect movie by any means, but i think we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this one. and that last post-rant sentence is harsh, homey!

      Thanks for visiting all the same!

  25. August 9, 2010 4:19 am

    Brilliant review! I, myself, have been trying to figure out how to sit down and write a review on my blog for such a spectacular movie. Wouldn’t know where to start. I’m sure it would probably turn into more of me just babbling about how huge of a Nolan fanboy I am. In fact, that blog post might come soon enough anyways unless I can restrain myself. Anyway, you totally captured everything I would have said… from the Matrix/Ocean’s connection to the bit about needing to see more of JGL and Hardy together. I can agree that the characters weren’t the best (although I do happen to be a huge DiCaprio fan & so his magnificent acting kinda halfway fooled me into thinking his character was that much more interesting), but I think if I had to name 2 of the most badass characters off the top of my head, Eames and Arthur would come to mind pretty fast. Totally agree about Ariadne too. Not so deep of a character, but her purpose was really just to be there to show us Dom’s conflict and also so that we had a legitimate way to learn about the rules of dreams instead of seeing Leo turn to the camera and awkwardly explain all of the technical stuff for the first 30 minutes of the film. But I thought Page did a particularly good acting job with what she was given in the script.

    Keep up the good reviewing! I’ll be sure to come back here often. It seems that you and I have fairly similar opinions. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Ken Watanabe hired you to infiltrate my mind and take all my thoughts exactly and put them into coherent writing (at least that’s one of us that has that talent!). I’ll be sure to make my own totem ASAP so I’ll at least be aware the next time you invade.

    • August 12, 2010 11:03 am

      hahaha, thanks for visiting, man. looks like my plan totally worked.

      eames and arthur really do steal the show, but that’s no surprise. hardy and the JGL kick a hefty amount of ass, glad folks are finally starting to see the light. man, i need to see this again.

  26. September 24, 2010 12:33 pm

    i agree on tom hardy!!!

    • September 24, 2010 12:35 pm

      oh hell yeah. that guy’s gonna be big time in no time.

  27. Jesse permalink
    November 22, 2010 8:32 pm

    What the HELL was Mr Saito even doing in the fucking dream except being a third leg? Don’t you think if you had a dream about the CEO of you fathers competing company sticking you up at gun point in the back of a taxi might give the whole setup away!!?

    Oh and what’s going on down in the subconscious?…nothing much, just a bit of drama. There is no reasoning ability in the subconscious and I would have expected a much more intense mindscape presented.

    You seem to praise MAL but I found her to be a totally irritating character.

    Love the revolving hallway scene the best.


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