Inception is about dream crime. Not only invading people’s dreams to find their secrets, largely for industrial espionage purposes, but also to plant ideas. This apparently demands going into dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams.
Like most fantasy movies, this one has its own internal logic, requiring the viewer to suspect disbelief for almost all of its 2 hours 20 minutes, and not to lose concentration for a second for fear of losing all track of the plot and which level of dreams you are in at any particular moment. Its credibility teeters on the brink continuously, but whether the Daliesque dreamscapes and multiply-interacting dream levels collapse around your ears or not may be more about you than anything else. I’m in two minds here: the best bit is the ending where you are left to wonder if the top will fall or not, but the subtle ambiguity is at times drenched with poorly-told narrative and meaningless action sequences.
Mark Kermode, a fine and forthright film critic, believes intelligent movies, a category in which he includes Inception, and particularly those which refuse to insult the intelligence of the audience, are like hen’s teeth and rocking horse droppings. He has a point, but I’m not convinced Inception is the movie which changes anything. After all, the studios still largely insist on having one character or another play lowest common denominator by filling the audience in on the plot at regular intervals. Keep up there at the back, dummy!!
In that respect, Nolan deserves praise, though it has to be said that many people think the storyline virtually impenetrable, and maybe there is a touch of Emperor’s New Clothes about admitting you don’t have a clue what is going on at some points, whose projections are attacking whom and why, how the witless victim comes to change his mind, and so forth – it does not stand up too closely to scrutiny. The whole edifice could tumble like a house of cards, for which Nolan largely has his cast to thank.
Talking of whom, the actors here seem largely to be having a field day. The one exception is DiCaprio – communicating largely in his repertoire of frowns, which now rival Roger Moore’s raised eyebrows. He may be THE STAR with top billing, but frankly he labours in every movie, is frequently miscast (think Howard Hughes in The Aviator), is usually acted off the screen (eg. Cate Blanchett runs rings around him in the Aviator, though the same is true in almost every movie he appears in), and simply doesn’t have what it takes to deliver the goods. If the movie were a swing band, Leo would be the dead left hand on the piano.
In the final analysis it is all hokum, but evidently the cash registers rang. Maybe Nolan planted the idea in the heads of the studio execs?