Christopher Nolan’s epic masterpiece Inception is just about as narcissistic as movies can get. I mean really: it’s 2 ½ hours long and you have to stay put the whole time or you’ll miss a crucial plot twist. Also: nobody knows what it’s about. I imagine the thought bubble inside Nolan’s head going something like, “My name is Christopher Nolan, and I’m going to develop a plot so above people’s heads that nobody will get it.“
To me, the confusion surrounding what the hell Inception is about is the best part of the movie. It sparks debate, and it’s a great advertising ploy. Before I got to the theatre, I had no clue what was going to happen over the next 3 hours of my life. I mean, I knew the movie was about dreams and everything. But an hour and several Twizzlers in I still didn’t know what was happening, and then I left even more confused than before. Whoever said movies should be easy?
Inception’s heavy bass, rich colors, and wild chase scenes will turn you all the way on. Basically, it’s a high-octane thriller about your wildest dreams and ideas. Dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within reality, all couched in a dream. French philosopher Jean Baudrilliard wrote a tiny book about this stuff called Simularca and Simulation where he basically argues that reality isn’t real anymore. Nobody knows what’s real. Seems to me like Chris Nolan read a little Baudrilliard to cook up this idea. Hey, is any of what we’re seeing real? Or is it all a dream? Where do ideas come from? When are we dreaming, and when is it real? Or is it ever really real? And – fuck! – does that top keep spinning or does it fall at the end?!
What I really loved about Inception was the ambitiousness of it all. There is nothing small about it. But Inception’s ambition is a lot different than similarly epic movies like Avatar, where it is all about showing what computers can do. Where James Cameron preferred CGI, Chris Nolan builds a real prison/fortress on a mountain that he blows up. He goes for thousands of gallons of real water being blown through windows at Leonardo DiCaprio. He builds a set that actually tilts 25 degrees (for real!) with every glass and piece of furniture glued down so it doesn’t budge. And I was especially blown away during the scenes when Joseph Gordon Levitt (I die) defies gravity, taking down all the bad guys in a rotating hotel hallway. But guess what? The hallway was really rotating! And, yeah, there is some CGI, like the really cool scene where the city of Paris folds on top of itself, but most of the stunts are real. So take that, Avatar.
Inception is an intellectual thriller of the highest class, one that packs smart dialogue, a plot so brilliant nobody understands it, and dazzling graphics into a fast-paced extravaganza. I just saw the movie on Saturday and I’m already dying for the sequel.