I made a deal with my friend Erin that I would go see Inception and in turn she would watch Lost. So I went on Monday, since it was still playing at the Metreon in San Francisco.
By then I knew I was going in for an action movie, which is not exactly my favorite genre, but I think Inception is even worse1 than the average action movie, because it’s fundamentally dishonest. It doesn’t even have the decency to admit to its nature: instead it conceals it underneath the fake appearance of an intellectual film, supposedly richer in concept and values.
Let’s face it: the richness has already been explored by movies that did a much better job at it.2
Possible counterargument: the remake is an accepted practice, and otherwise inspiration is often drawn from existing works. All true, except this particular movie was marketed as the one big revelation, one that is able to play with its narrative structures—and the audience’s minds—in all new ways.
But the only way in which it played with my mind was by boring the crap out of it. The elasticity of time is more than a meaning effect—it’s evidently a trademark of the author. After The Dark Knight I swore I’d never watch another one of Christopher Nolan’s movies for that exact reason: time is voided of meaning and is filled with redundancy.
We get it, you like car chases and people shooting at each other. What I’m saying is you don’t need Batman or the depths of human mind as an excuse.
The movie loses itself in technicalities, and tries to distract the audience with all the special effects and the bravura of the actors. But what is bravura, what is its purpose when the lines are predictable and shallow, almost comic even when they clearly aren’t meant to be?
Don’t even get me started with the way the whole concept needs to be sustained with the introduction of new rules—which in turn need to be explicitly communicated—as the story progresses. That’s how much trust the director had in his American audience. And considering how wildly popular the movie has been, I’m afraid he knows his audience way too well. Just don’t try to convince me this is art.