Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. It’s too long by 30 minutes. It’s a festival of expository dialog. Wait, is that a real thing? Should that be a real thing? It wouldn’t take much to throw together. We could call it Expositorapalooza. There would be hipsters with tight jeans, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, gently bobbing their heads in time with the rolling beat of the Hans Zimmer score as they take pictures of each other with plastic 35mm cameras they bought at Urban Outfitters.
What is it with Hans Zimmer, anyway? Did he get a discount on woodwinds at a highbrow pawnshop? I watched The Dark Knight on DVD after I got home from Inception and I realized their scores are basically the same: flute string flute string flute string WOODWINDS.
You know, I get to thinking about “woodwinds” and the next thing I know I’m in an Egyptian brothel in 1914, and Mel Gibson is screaming obscenities at passing Muslims while punching his girlfriend for not outrunning the machine gun.
Speaking of, did you ever notice that if you’re driving a 1991 Chevy Lumina APV, and your brother in the back seat is actually your other brother (still looks like himself though), and the mannequin in the passenger seat is your uncle, if you put the minivan into a wicked 4-wheel drift to slide under a jackknifed gasoline truck then there will be a 20-foot-tall James T. Kirk flipping you the bird on the other side? Yeah, me too.
But I digress.
Here’s what you need to know: Christopher Nolan makes good movies. This is a movie made by Christopher Nolan. This is a good movie. Q.E.D. I hate to drop the maths on you, but sometimes a gangsta just gotta roll.
BUT! This would be a short review if I left it at that. Here, in order, are reasons why it’s a good movie:
The Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio plays the badass with all the answers, and the role is perfect for him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is his right hand man, and goes against type by also being a badass. He may be the best part of the movie. Or at least he would be, except Tom Hardy as the requisite British badass pretty much steals any scene he’s in. He’s probably the next Jason Statham, except with less kicking and more one-liners. Juno also does a great job as the target for all of Leo’s expository dialog, but for a lot of the movie she’s not given a whole lot to do other than “look really concerned” and “pay attention.” No mean feat, for some of the dialog.
The Direction: The action scenes (also known as “The Middle 100 Minutes of The Movie”) are all top-notch. The weightless fights with Gordon-Levitt are probably the highlight of the movie.
The Script: The plot is complex. I’m not 100% sure I have all the levels square in my head. That said, at its core, it’s a heist movie. All the SFX and pseudo-science try to hide that fact, but it’s just a heist movie, and god knows I love me some heist movie. Especially when it’s well done, and this one is particularly well done.
The Effects: If you look at the trailer, it looks like this movie will be all SFX, with crazy mind-bending stuff going on all over. Kind of yes, mostly no. All the big setpieces are spoiled by the trailer, so don’t go in expecting to see the city folding on itself over and over. That said, on the big screen, with the Zimmer score pounding, the setpieces are frickin’ awesome.
Sounds awesome, right? Sounds like that time you were in a hallway with a thousand-foot-tall ceiling and a guy named Van Heusen, and you were trying to find the right light switch to rewire, but it was difficult because there were an infinite number of them and they were all identical. Also, Prince’s Little Red Corvette was playing, and frankly, that’s just not that good of a song.
Oh, right. The bad stuff. Here, in order, are the reasons this isn’t a good movie:
The Editing: There are scenes that last too goddamn long. There’s an action scene stolen from a Roger Moore-era Bond movie (SKI POWER!) that is, at first, awesome, but then gets tiresome. Like I said, the movie is 20 minutes too long, doled out in 1-minute chunks throughout. They could trim a lot of the exposition, and some of the unnecessary action, and wind up with a movie that’s a lot tighter and just as good.
The Music: Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I loved the score. But Zimmer makes a mistake by starting in with the dramatic dirges about 30 minutes before he needed to, and that just weighs you down by the time he really needs to hit you with some drama. If you’re always at “10,” eventually “10” is no different from “1.”
The Script: The dialog gets too forced at times, particularly when Leo is trying to explain to Juno how the whole “inception” thing works. He might as well turn to the camera and say “Okay, listen. Here’s how it’s going to work. Pay attention. You there? Bob? In the third row? Stop shoving jujubes in your goddamn pie hole and listen. I swear to god, if your friends don’t see this movie because you whined about how confused you were then I’ll find you and I’ll beat you to death with my Golden Globe. Seriously, Bob, Blood Diamond was awesome. That’s right, I know you told your landlord to skip it because it was too preachy. I’m watching you, Bob. I’m watching you, and I’m going to make you pay.”
So there you have it. I liked it a lot. Probably will wind up being my favorite movie of the year, and a couple glaring faults away from being one of my favorites of all time. Right next to the one about the mad scientist that was building a light saber on the moon so that he could cut the Earth in half. He claimed it was all my fault, because I had a fever. I was only 8, for god’s sake. That bastard.
Tags: 4-star, Captain Kirk, Christopher Nolan, Ellen Page, Hans Zimmer, Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno, Leonardo DiCaprio, Little Red Corvette, Lumina APV, Michael Caine, OH GOD THE NIGHT TERRORS, The Dark Knight, Tom Hardy