Thursday, September 23, 2010


Since Shooting Wall did not update the blog all summer, we were unable to comment on the summer movie season. Therefore, I would like to use this post to discuss Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Inception was one of the biggest films of summer 2010 and received, largely, glowing reviews. It has a 74 score on Metacritic with 100s from eleven of the top American film critics including the Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, Time, Variety and the San Francisco Chronicle to name a few. The film even made the cover of the July/August edition of film comment, which featured a lengthy interview with Christopher Nolan (this last one I find particularly obnoxious). And what was all of this acclaim and attention for? A so-called “intelligent” action film? What exactly does not even mean?

Christopher Nolan is regularly considered the new Hollywood wonderkid, revitalizing the action genre as more serious, thoughtful and intellectual. Many saw Inception as another Nolan success. I can admit that compared to the other trash released this (or any other summer for that matter) Inception was tolerable and, in comparison to a Michael Bay film, intelligent. But that really isn’t saying much at all. Inception is a mediocre film at best.

Inception does have ideas and Nolan does have the capacity for intelligent filmmaking, but Inception completely blows it in almost every way. The ideas, quite frankly, have been done and have been done better. Dreams have been explored more interestingly not very long ago in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example, and in numerous films since the invention of cinema. Dreams and cinema have always been closely related and film offers a unique perspective for those interested in the idea of dreams, unless of course you are really only interested in making an action film, which is what Christopher Nolan has decided to do with Inception.

And this is the real problem with the film: it is first and foremost an action film. 90% of Inception is about plot and about action. The ideas have so little time to be fully developed in any meaningful way. The myriad of chases, gun fights and car crashes has little to no bearing on any of the so-called ideas explored in the film. This film is superficial in almost every possible way. It is so loud and obnoxious that it becomes distracting and not in a good way. Even when the characters are simply speaking to each other, music was constantly playing. Almost every bit of dialogue is used for explanation or to further the plot. Nolan was a not able to fully integrate his ideas with the plot. He shows in almost every instance that he is more interested in the plot and the action than in the ideas. If Nolan is really making a so-called “intelligent” film, then why does he insist on hiding all his ideas under constant music, special effects and overblown, overlong action sequences? Why does Nolan insist on appealing to the lowest common denominator? Where is the innovation? I don’t see it

Why is Nolan constantly receiving praise? What is exactly is an “intelligent” action film? And, more importantly, why should we care about “intelligent” action films? Is it necessary? It is truly discouraging to see someone like Nolan receiving so much praise not just from audiences, but from critics as well, for films that are only good in comparison with bad action movies. The praise is especially unfortunate when someone like Steven Soderbergh, who is also working in the Hollywood system and actually making legitimately bold, interesting and intelligent films continues to get mixed to bad reviews from critics and is ignored more and more by audiences.. As Nolan’s stock continues to rise with each more and more mainstream and idiotic film, Soderbergh’s continues to fall as he makes less accessible, yet truly intelligent films.

Has mainstream cinema become so devoid of intelligence that Inception could be mistaken for some kind of an art film? Yes.


  1. Dreams? Give me a break. Real life is interesting as it is, I don't know what's the obsession with dreams. Kinda boring.

    My biggest gripe with Inception was the soap opera drama between DiCaprio and his wife. The way the backstory was executed, it almost looked like one of those Transitions commercials. Those parts of the movie were just too phony, whatever Leo was trying to achieve, I just wasn't paying attention anymore to care about it.

    Toy Story 3 is the best movie of summer 2010. Hopefully it'll win Best Screenplay.

  2. I agree. DiCaprio pretty much plays the same character in every movie he is in anyway. He is always moody and distraught because something terrible happened in his past, which he can't forget. The drama was boring and trite and poorly developed in every way. I am beginning to wonder if Nolan knows how to even deal with characters?

    The whole thing was poorly executed. I could write a hundred pages about the things I didn't like about Inception.

  3. Same with me, except almost everyone who I've encountered about Inception has really enjoyed it, therefore it's kind of a sore subject for me to be so angry toward it. I hate when that happens. But yes, it could've been a whole lot better had the concentration been equally on the characters as it was on the concept. I think Nolan indulged himself in his own cool ideas a little too much with this one.