Nolan In-Review: Inception

In dreams the passage of time is different. Five minutes in the real world, is an hour in the dream. I feel like I have experienced the inverse of this since it has apparently been a staggering ten years since Christopher Nolan’s Inception was released – and it hasn’t aged a day.

It was hard to imagine back then that Nolan could ever come close to topping his work with The Dark Knight, especially after a mere two years. But low and behold, Inception came to us in all of its dreamy goodness, with rolling corridors, slow-motion falling, and those incessant trailer Bwahs.

Arriving in cinemas as a different kind of blockbuster, as well as the follow-up to The Dark Knight, Inception was a big hit. What made it different was its aversion from dumb plot points and an over-reliance of action. Instead, viewer had to know who was where and when as the plot thickens further. All of this, and it was a new intellectual property in market plagued by constant sequels, prequels and spin-offs.

Once again, Nolan struck that fine balance between simplicity and complexity. Taking the science-fiction route of dreams within dreams and applying that to something recognisable – the heist film. At its fundamental core is something that every audience member is going to have some experience with, and therefore some expectations, which then Nolan can promptly subvert.

I often feel that Inception could have included a few more psychological elements, such as its Elevator of Memories, or a train ramming through the taxi-laden streets of New York. But Nolan keeps things focused, clean, and to the point. Each moment of action has purpose and impact, to where a car chase on a top layered dream is influencing gravity in the next and causing avalanches in the one after that. It is impressive that Nolan can crosscut all of these sections in a way that not only makes sense, but it also riveting and intense at the same time.

After The Dark Knight there was a huge question lingering over the director, asking where he was going to go next. Inception answered that question in many ways, but even at that point in 2010, no two films of his had been the same, and they would only become more diverse. Seven films in, and Nolan was still experimenting, still exploring different stories through the realms of cinema, and here he was giving his spin on the heist movie.

Inception’s success should have been taken more seriously, as many may have hoped for more films like it. Alas, his upcoming feature Tenet feels like the first comparable film to Inception in those ten years since its release. Regardless, Inception gained Nolan another accolade title to go along with his mastery of narrative experimentation; the man who created the intelligent blockbuster.

Published by Aaron Bayne

I’m a film and video games journalist based in Scotland. I write stuff about them on my website, talk about them on my podcasts and film videos about them for BBC The Social.

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