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"If you build it they will come"
on 10 January 2013
After collaborating with other writers and also adapting existing work Christopher Nolan chose to follow up the billion dollars plus grossing The Dark Knight with an original concept of his own that had been a germ of an idea near the infancy of his film career. Proving that he was more than capable helming a big budget blockbuster by resurrecting the Batman franchise in such a spectacular and creative fashion not only making one of the most impressive origin pictures in comic book history but also following it up with a deeper more complex and overall even more impressive sequel, anything that followed would need to be special and choosing to visualise a wholly original idea with huge ambition was a big gamble for Warner Brothers despite his track record, Inception isn't what you'd call just eye candy.
Already establishing the fact he was capable of casting quite brilliantly with previous efforts, Nolan nonetheless littered Inception with a rich cast and headed that with not just the leading man of the moment but also one of the most talented and dazzling actors of his generation. Leonardo DiCaprio had recently just come off the back of another impressive turn in his fourth and most impressive Martin Scorcesse collaboration Shutter Island. Nolan faith in DiCaprio is rewarded as he delivers another immersive performance and gives a powerful emotional reading of Nolan's protagonist Dom Cobb. Alongside Dicaprio an impressive roster of supporting characters essayed by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy as members of Cobb's team, Hardy establishing his talent once again playing the charismatic Eames the forger. Marion Cotillard offers sultry support as Cobb's deceased wife Mal, that haunts his dreams and threaten to jeopardise their operations. Some Nolan regulars such as Ken Wantanabe as the mysterious business man Saito who hires Cobb's team after manipulating him to performing Inception a risky procedure but tempting Cobb with a prize he can't resist. Cillian Murphy as the mark Robert Fischer, Micheal Caine briefly pops up in another mentor type role and it is nice to see Tom Berenger once again on the big screen, Nolan showing an example of bringing more talent back from the dead like casting Eric Roberts in The Dark Knight.
Although the true star of proceedings is Nolan himself, first for providing his original idea, a fresh dazzling display of imagination testing the boundaries of what an audience can follow, bucking the trend of the usual dumbing down that Hollywood is guilty of more than often, great work still gets made but blockbuster cinema is not the usual arena for the intelligence on display here. Inception is a science fiction action thriller of epic qualities, a James Bond film filtered through Bladerunner. Having already changed the way the comic book genre can be interpreted, Nolan not only shows blockbusters can have a brain but also not at the expense of thrilling the audience, showing the second example of his brilliance the visual feast for the eyes. Once again utilising his regular collaborator his ever reliable cinematographer Wally Phfister, integral to Nolanâ(TM)s vision and delivers once again in spades, the epic real and dream like landscapes littered throughout the film. Bond and Batman special effects extraordinaire Chris Corbould adding to the mix his usual standard of extraordinary fireworks.
Nolan also ups his game, a small percentage of people criticised the staging of the action sequences in The Dark Knight but you'd be hard pressed to knock what is on display here, an undoubted highlight must be third level of the dream sequence where Nolan takes inspiration from his favourite Bond entry On Her Majesty Secret Service, not a rip off but an interesting riff on that spectacular 007 epic with the team thrown into an exciting action fuelled scene with loud gunfire and snow covered landscapes where the tension is upped to the max. There also thrilling car chases as well as hypnotic dream world sequences visualised in such epic proportions by Nolan and his team, it is a visual marvel and easily his most ambitious to date, simply breathtaking
If you were to aim any criticism, Nolan is well known for not been considered as a director who is strong on emotion, too much of a technician, similar to that other perfectionist David Fincher. This is concerned with dazzling the eyes and confounding the mind, tugging the heart strings is not really on the agenda although Dom and Mal's element that is at the heart of the film is performed by DiCaprio & Cotillard with enough conviction for the emotion to register. He's never been particularly good at writing for women but like Cotillard Ellen Page's architect Ariadne performs well with the small amount they are given.
After collaborating with Hans Zimmer since Batman Begins with his scoring partner James Newton Howard with the soundtrack for those films, Nolan enlists Zimmer to go it alone to provide yet another powerful score for Inception, until his work with Nolan my appreciation of Zimmer was small yes he composed some great early scores but then seem to slip into cutty cutter sound-alike phase, Nolan seems to have re-invigorated him no end that much is true witnessing the scores he's provided for Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films. Zimmer's score drives the films action as well as emotive points, using Edith Piaf's Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien as a basis for his score using one note, Nolan was using the song as a trigger to bring people out the dream state and encouraged the use of it in the score.
A regular Nolan motif is the element of ambiguousness, leaving the story open to interpretation, Inception certainly isn't short changing us on that, those who grow tired with this element of Nolan's are likely to be just as frustrated, throughout the film hints and leaves clues that may lead the imagination to interpret different meanings, the conclusion of the film never really establishes a clear definitive answer, as any other film in recent memory spun up so much debate and conjecture? Although those who are more than happy for the mystery will have no problem diving into this celluloid dream scape.
Once again Nolan is unable like the Batman films to top Memento and The Prestige, those smaller more intricate films showing the man well and truly a master of his craft, there is a desire to see him venture back into more intimate film making once again although we have the conclusion of one Winged Vigilante to be concerned with first but seeing such a creative auteur in the large commercial arena making these big budget epics with lucrative returns shows Hollywood one thing, if you build it they will come.