It was hard to find a good review of the last movie I reviewed, and it’s hard to find a bad one of this one. Inception is very well regarded indeed.
It’s a fine film. As Roger Ebert noted, it’s very hard to deliver a spoiler, even accidentally. The plot develops as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb navigates layered dreams, exploring the relationships between them and causing the viewer to question everything s/he sees. Close attention is encouraged.
The production is lush and full of interesting detail. (I loved all of the wristwatch attention!) The previews made me expect more special effects than the film ultimately delivered, and I think they were correctly scoped and executed. It would have been easy to jump on a runaway CGI train here, and the restraint in not doing so is commendable.
I have a standout performance from Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island) in recent memory, and perhaps that context hurt my perception here. He’s never a liability, but he doesn’t shine either. He’s in the shot nearly continuously, but dramatically he’s given very little to do. Ellen Page did well, though her Juno performance was so powerful I may never be able to get all the way around it. I always grin a bit when Tom Berenger shows up.
Inception is a good effort that was obviously made with care, but I think it’s too ambitious. It wants to move the goalposts; instead its one trick isn’t enough scaffolding to fully realize its potential. Really, what does its complex narrative do but compartmentalize well-done, but fairly stock, scenes?
The finished product is strong enough to get a good rating from me, but I think this was a moon shot that fell a bit short.