The unfathomable chaos becomes intolerable.


An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            "Inception" is not merely a bad movie; it's an enormous insult to the audience. Christopher Nolan has conjured an intriguing premise which he then wraps in millions of dollars worth of production money before throwing an impossible challenge at all of us: "See if you can keep up with this one!" Consider the premise.

            The field of Extraction has been discovered. Leonardo DiCaprio is Cobb, the extractor. He intrigues us with the theory that it is now possible to steal an idea from someone's mind. In fact, he has done it. Now he suggests that if an idea can be so stolen, why is it not possible to plant one in an unsuspecting mind? Ideas will be stolen or planted while the subject is dreaming. For those of us who have always loved the certainty that no one can read our minds, this has the promise of a great story. But that promise is immediately annihilated by the opening scenes that bombard us with violence and confusion. If we listen very closely, we learn the plot involves something about a corporation, the CEO, his heir, and the combination to the safe that holds the rich man's will. But these essentials are buried in an explosion of noise.

            Because Cobb blew it last time around, a new architect must be found to design the dreams for the subjects after they are put to sleep. This would be Ellen Page as Ariadne who will talk to the subconscious of the subjects on a deeper dream level than usual. With understandable hesitation, she takes the job "because it's pure creation."

            We visit a chemist's underground dream lab ("Come, I'll show you.) where the chemist will develop a sedative powerful enough to sustain three layers of dreaming. We travel to the Alps where white suited people are tossed about by an avalanche. We visit Tokyo and New York where landscapes become dreamscapes that fold physically in on themselves. That's quite fun to watch for a few minutes. While the screen is awash in car chases, fireballs, eruptions, gunfire, and the swashing of knives into flesh, remember that this is ok because, if you're lucky, it will probably be a dream. After two hours and thirty-six minutes the unfathomable chaos becomes intolerable.

            Mr. Nolan has hired expensive talent (DiCaprio, Page, and Marion Cotillard) and spent millions on special effects and stunts, making it ever more dismal that he never allows the audience to fit the pieces of his puzzle together. He never clarifies the connections between places and people that would allow us to have a good time in the maze. As the interminable ordeal finally winds down, we are wondering simply who will be left alive at the end. Who will wake up from which dream? Once again a movie becomes a canvas for special effects at the expense of story. This ranks as the longest bad movie made by talented people that I have seen in years.


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