Review of Christopher Nolan’s Inception

Review of Christopher Nolan’s Inception



Review of Christopher Nolan’s Inception

            Inception was one of the biggest films of 2010, but the movie still failed to live up to the standards set by other Nolan works like The Dark Knight and Memento. Inception followed the story of a team of professional thieves, who ply their trade by entering the minds of their targets. Nolan intended Inception to be a groundbreaking film in many ways. The movie featured an idea that no other filmmaker had explored before and tried to present in a captivating and engaging manner. While Nolan succeeded in making an entertaining and engrossing film, he failed to make it as effective as previous works such as Memento and The Dark Knight. Accordingly, Nolan’s Inception was a commendable attempt but the director failed to live up to his own high standards.

            Inception tells the story of Dom Cobb (portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio), a con artist who steals from his victims by infiltrating their subconscious through their dreams. Cobb is hired by Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) a Japanese businessman to carry out an unusual mission with his team where they will plant an idea into their target’s head as opposed to stealing information, as is the norm. Cobb’s success in the mission will allow him to return to the United States to his children, where the authorities want to arrest him for the murder of his wife. To complete the mission, Cobb works with his regular team made up of Arthur (depicted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Yusuf (played by Dileep Rao) and Eames (portrayed by Tom Hardy). Adding on to the difficulty of the mission is the constant appearance of Cobb’s deceased wife, a manifestation of his guilt.

            One thing that stands out in Inception is the cast. Christopher Nolan managed to assemble an ensemble cast that manages to deliver powerful performances despite having to sell a difficult concept. The main cast of the film features performers who have starred in major films in their careers. While DiCaprio and Michael Caine are the biggest of the stars, other performers such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Ken Watanabe are major players in the industry in their own right, having received acclaim for their performances in films such as 500 Days of Summer, Juno and The Last Samurai, respectively. Within Inception, Marion Cotillard’s performance as Mal (Cobb’s deceased wife) was one of the most compelling and intriguing. Cotillard’s depiction of a sorrowful, obsessive and manic wife was convincing in the way that it made the audience genuinely fearful of her. This created an element of suspense whenever her presence was anticipated within the film. DiCaprio was also able to provide a typically powerful performance as Cobb. The strength of his performance came in the way he made the weight of his guilt visible, making the audience convinced that he was genuinely fatigued with the way his life was.

             The cinematography and visual effects were some of the most commendable aspects of the film. Inception was a groundbreaking film in the way that it used different techniques to provide a compelling view for audiences. The film’s action sequences were immersive, as Nolan preferred to use practical effects instead of computer-generated imagery. The result of this choice was a realistic portrayal of the film’s worlds. The “limbo” universe in the film was particularly compelling because of the way it projected an image of desolation and despair. Another strong aspect of the film was its score. Hans Zimmer’s work on the music in Inception resulted in a gripping and emotional score that managed to portray the film’s moments in the right mood.

            Inception’s historical relevance comes through many ways. Firstly, the film challenged the human understanding of reality in many ways. Through Inception, Nolan asked critical questions of the way people see the world that revolved around the factors that influence perceptions. Through the film’s plot, Nolan seemed to ask whether people are really in control of their own minds as he presented the possibility that unknown forces may sometimes play with our minds and make foreign ideas seem as our own. The ethical nature of these manipulations was also brought into question as the film depicted characters that were changing another person’s mind purely for personal gain. The historical relevance of Inception also came through the film’s expectations of its audience. Through Inception, Nolan broke ranks with other filmmakers and proceeded to present a film that had a complex, structured and confusing plot. In doing so, Nolan made the rare assumption that movie watchers are intelligent and that the film will not leave them dumbfounded.

            Despite being a good film, Inception failed to live up to Christopher Nolan’s standards. Before Inception, Nolan had built his reputation with blockbusters such as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, along with smaller projects like Insomnia and Memento. In terms of the size of the project, Inception was similar to The Dark Knight, a film that also cost more than a hundred million dollars to make. However, the film’s style and plot was more similar to Memento, another of Nolan’s movies that also challenged our concepts of reality. Compared to Memento, Inception was in some ways a weak film. Both movies explored human concepts of reality in immersive and slightly confusing ways, but Memento came across as a more compelling film. Though, the film’s success was largely the result of  Guy Pearce’s depiction of a vengeful amnesiac, the plot was also a key selling point, something that Nolan was unable to replicate in Inception. However, one field in which Nolan matched the standards of his past works was in the special effects of Inception. The filming in the film’s fight scenes projected the same amount of tension and edginess that can be found in other Nolan movies like The Dark Knight.

             Inception may not have been Christopher Nolan’s best movies, but it was a commendable effort. The story was an attempt to replicate the immersive yet convoluted plot of Memento, while the production aimed to match the work that Nolan did in The Dark Knight. However, Inception failed to live up to the expectations of both films. The film’s strong points were the excellent performances by Cotillard and Dicaprio along with the superb visual effects that Nolan employed. Contrastingly, the plot featured a muddled story where the “dream within a dream” technique is likely to have left some viewers behind. Despite all this, the film challenges the human concept of reality in a way that none other has done, effectively cementing its place in history. 

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