Bring On the Bat...
Every generation has at least one great visionary director whose creative genius transcends their visual craft in a way that defies the conventional norm and is revered by critics and audiences for their originality and brilliance. Christopher Nolan is, without doubt, this generation's Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, or Orson Welles and will long be remembered among that pantheon as one of the greatest film directors of all time.
Inception is the movie that The Matrix wanted to be but wasn't and only dreams that it could have been while it was more preoccupied making itself look cool with science fiction technology and special effects, it merely stood at the precipice of the elaborate canvas of storytelling genius that Nolan presents us here with Inception's intricately complex and labyrinthian narrative as he so masterfully demonstrated in Memento (2000) that relies upon virtually no science fiction technology at all, simply the dreams and imagination of its narrative construct. There is never a dull moment as the viewer's mind is forced to keep up with the expository action racing along like a proverbial freight train. The special effects are relatively seamless and exist only to support the rich, complicated framework of its story rather than distract from it with gratuitous explosions and an overindulgence of CGI that dominate the morose offerings of modern summer movie blockbusters. Nolan's visual scope and canvas are vast and epic but grounded in a believable and conventional reality, an illusion every bit as effective as the slight-of-hand deception of The Prestige that will leave the viewer questioning what reality really is and which level of reality they are watching long after the film has ended.
There are plenty of nods and send-ups to Nolan's favorite films and their influences are evident throughout, the most obvious of which being Blade Runner which Nolan is quoted as his biggest inspiration and also On Her Majesty's Secret Service which he cited as his favorite James Bond film. For my money, they should just hand the keys to the Bond franchise over to Nolan right now and let him re-invigorate it with the same sophistication and panache that he brought to the Batman franchise with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Tom Hardy already proved his theatrical range as a serious performer with his breakout performance as Bronson (2009) and delivers an exceptional supporting performance as Eames mixing sly wit with a focused intensity that would be perfect to see him bringing to the role of future James Bond.
Although I've never really cared much for Leonardo DiCaprio as a leading actor and have always regarded him as that "kid" from Titanic but I was completely taken by his emotionally intense performance as Cobb. Nolan has a knack for casting only the best actors of the highest caliber for his roles and here Leo proves that he is more than a capable leading actor of his generation. Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe, and Michael Caine once again bring an heir of class and benediction to their supporting roles as they had done previously in Batman Begins.
Hanz Zimmer's intense score for Inception is extraordinary delivering a lucid electronic ambiance that is both as ethereal as it is urgent, even darker and more melancholy than his score for The Dark Knight. Zimmer composes an auditory dreamscape that compliments the visual experience of the film by implanting its haunting melody in your mind and staying with you long after you've left the theater.
Summer 2010 was looking pretty bleak until Nolan came along and rescued it much like he did in 2008 with The Dark Knight. All my fears and doubts about how he was going to top that with the third Batman film have easily been subdued. I have no doubt in my mind that he will deliver a spectacular finale to his chorus of Batman films with the same sophistication as he has demonstrated in Inception. The Dark Knight is in good hands. Now, just let him have the keys to the Astin Martin and let him write his own ticket. Nolan is the real architect of our dreams.