While the math is Solaris plus Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind plus The Matrix plus the rules of action video games, Christopher Nolan’s summer blockbuster Inception doesn’t quite add up. But you know what, who cares? Is it the best of Hollywood’s “summer movies” of 2010? Probably but the competition is far from fierce. It’s a sad state of affairs when I can give this praise to a film based simply on novelty and ambition as compared to the rehashes of old ideas and unnecessary sequels that seem to be the stock in trade of Hollywood in 2010. Hell I can give Inception 4 out of 5 stars just for novelty.

Inception isn’t a bad movie. I was transfixed pretty much throughout. Make no mistake, it’s flaws are legion: a clunky script that requires too much “tell not show” exposition, leading to a dense film screaming for just a moment to breathe, cardboard characters that waste the acting talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe, Nolan’s love of the Paul Greengrass/Quantum of Solace style million cuts a minute action/chase/shootout sequences whose manic intensity make me want to search for old gum on the theater floor until it’s over and the film’s failed attempt at pinning the narrative to a (less than resonant) longing for a lost love. Not to mention Nolan’s failure to understand that dream reality is never as reliant on it’s own internal logic as this film is. I can’t help but think that if he were to just let go for a minute the film would have been transcendent.

Nonetheless as a viewer I was completely satisfied. Christopher Nolan makes wonderful puzzle boxes and revels in surface-level mind-fucks. When he’s at his best (the concept of “dream time” being elongated compared to the time of the “awake” state above it created one of the most clever “race against the clock” scenarios ever filmed) he’s amazing. But make no mistake, this is not a masterpiece. That doesn’t make me not want to experience it again in the theater though, and coming from me that’s pretty high praise.

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