I Saw it at the Theatre (in a Dream): Inception

 Spoiler Warning: Many major plot points revealed within.

[the first pain reliever a film-maker reaches for is] the fantasy sequence or the dream sequence because
basically you’re looking for a way to say certain things, and the easiest way is to just say it in an abstract way
 you don’t have to work into your reality, and have your character [wake up]

– Brad Bird, director of “The Incredibles” and “The Iron Giant”

    Even in my dreams, I’m an idiot who knows he’s about to wake up to reality.

– Vanilla Sky

  I usually have a feeling of shame when I review a movie that’s been out for two weeks, but seeing as Inception topped last weekend’s box office at #1 once again, I’m sure there’s enough yahoos still rushing to see it that this will find some use.

     But, like I said, Inception (the newest Sci-Fi flick written and directed by Christopher Nolan), has had more than a few reviews already, so I thought I’d weigh in on a few before seeing it myself. When you’ve walked the beat as long as I have you know who to turn to in situations like this.

Curtis, the filthy homeless man who lives in the vacant lot by my house

     Don’t let his unfortunate current social status fool you, Curtis is a well versed cinephile with a keen eye for cinematography, I was sure he had some interesting notes/half eaten cans of tuna that I could pick from.

“It was super trippy man,” he told me, “there’s stairs and shit you know? And water, and like, that chick from Juno, you know, the one that got Jason Bateman knocked up, remember that?”

“Uh, I don’t think that was how the movie went.”

“What movie?”

    It’s a shame the rest of our interview had to be cut short as Curtis needed to “go snort some Nyquill”, but I was glad to hear he’d had a positive impression.

Tony, the much cleaner homeless man who lives in the vacant lot by my house

“I didn’t really get it,” Tony confessed to me, “about half way through they just lost me, and I was completely sober.”

Completely sober?”

“Well, I had a contact high from Curtis, but aside from that and the acid I was pretty straight, yeah”

     Tony wasn’t the only one confused, it seems the general moviegoing audience also had difficulty following the twists and turns of the admittedly convoluted plot. And, hey, it’s not like some great movies can’t be really confusing some of the time, right? Maybe I should get one more opinion.


     I arrived at Smithee’s house and let myself in, catching a glimpse of what can only be described as an octopus formed of human centipedes. I showed myself out without asking any questions.

My Review

     Inception is complicated. That shouldn’t be an admission of guilt, Memento was complicated, I’ve known people who had trouble following the Godfather, or even Apocalypse Now, complicated shouldn’t be a death sentence. I’ll admit myself, there was one or two scenes where I was lost, but if you trust that everything is resolved in the third act your brain won’t melt on the drive home.

     Simplicity is my goal while I talk about this movie though, and the best I can do is remind you what Inception is about: a thief (Leonardo DiCaprio) steals (or, later in the film, plants) ideas in the minds of wealthy businessmen by using a piece of fictional military hardware  (I think they called it “Dream Net”, though I like to think of it as “the Briefcase”) that lets him (using iv inserted psychic drugs) enter their dreams.  Not exactly high concept, but there’s only two things you need to remember: “thief”, and “fictional military hardware”.

Inception is a Sci-Fi Heist movie. Ocean’s 11 meets Minority Report.

     Really, swear to god. Even all the usual Heist trope characters are there, the Leader, the Muscle, the Techie, the Planner, the Pickpocket, the Imposter, but what  they’re stealing and how they’re stealing it is different.

     Inception feels unique the whole way through, you’re drawn to the screen in every scene and by the end you’ll be genuinely interested in the characters, even though they don’t get much of a chance to develop.

    The action is top notch, including a zero gravity fight that I can’t get out of my head and a pulse pumping chase through the streets of Mombassa . It’s mostly gunplay and the fisticuffs pass by quickly, but you’ll never go more than a few scenes without action.

      Everyone gives a solid performance but there were three that stood out in my mind as noteworthy:

Ellen Page finally (finally!) uses her full potential

Ellen plays the new girl of the group, and she gives her character intelligence and realism. I was not a fan of Juno, Smart People, or Whip It!, in fact before Inception my fondest memories of her were as Kitty Pryde in Brett Rattner’s gawdawful X Men threequel. I hope we get to see her in more roles of this caliber in the future.

Marion Cotillard manages to switch from scary to sweet like a light switch

      Marion plays Leonardo’s wife (or rather, her memory), and she shows considerable talent doing so. In Leo’s good memories of her she’s sweet and kind, all hand-holding and giggles, but when Ellen’s character trespasses in Leo’s dreams, she becomes a threatening, dark spirit of Leo’s vengeful guilt, and it’s convincing! It must take a whole lot of talent to play two distinctly different characters in one, and Marion does it so well.

Tom Hardy is a bona-fide action hero

     In Inception, Tom Plays Eames, the slick talking pick pocket who helps Leo in his heist, but very soon Tom will be playing Max Rockatansky (of the Melbourne Rockatanskys) in Mad Max 4: Fury Road. Being very invested in the Mad Max series, I was eager to take this chance to judge if he had the chops to fill Gibson’s racist boots.

I was not disappointed.

In the third act Eames departs on a marathon run of ass-kickery that sees him dispatching at least a dozen guards, blowing up a Humvee, and then a hospital (because fuck them, that’s why). Fury Road, here we come!


Inception is far and wide the best movie of the Summer so far, and I’ll peg it as the best geek culture movie of the year right now. Go and see it. And hey, if you don’t get it, you can ogle this for two hours.

Good stuff.



One Response to “I Saw it at the Theatre (in a Dream): Inception”

  1. Great review…now I HAVE to go and see it!

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