I know the movie of the moment is “Inception”. It’s a heavily hyped, high octane, heady thriller that I’m supposed too be thrilled with. But I have serious problems with it. For such a cerebral movie, it had some downright dumb aspects.
Here’s my biggest problem with it. I know it will sound like I’m nit-picking here, but when a movie comes off as highbrow as this one does, there shouldn’t be nonsense like this. How on earth can a crowd of bad guys with shotguns and automatic weapons not hit the driver of a van at point blank range? In fact, not a single person shooting at our intrepid band of memory invaders had even a semblance of sense of aim, whether in the streets or a mountain snowscape or anywhere else. Give me a break.
I know you’ll say that many (all?) action movies suffer from the same affliction and you’re mostly right. But this movie isn’t passing itself off as “Die Hard”, James Bond, or some Chuck Norris epic. This is a director asking us to keep track of a story nested four levels deep. We have a right to expect more.
Second, did anyone believe Ellen Page in that part for even a second? I’m sorry – she was fine in “Juno”, but this role called for someone who doesn’t look like a prepubescent grocery checkout girl with the emotional depth of, well, Chuck Norris. Have another glass of Sunny D, Ellen.
Furthermore, there was way too much talking about how and why everything behaved the way it did. A little bit of exposition is acceptable in a made-up world like this one, but they were still explaining stuff beyond the halfway point of the movie. It wasn’t nearly as excessive as the second “Matrix” movie (man, was that painful!) but it was bad enough. If you can’t show us, maybe you’re trying to do too much.
Finally, I don’t like movies that make up their own rules then routinely break them or make up new ones as they go along. I never felt like the ground stopped shifting under me. As soon as I thought I had the rules down, they either defied one or added one.
The first “Matrix” movie, in my humble opinion, pulled this off. They created an alternate reality that was consistent throughout and I bought it. “Inception” tried to do way more than it could handle.
(Note that I could be way off on the last point. My 17-year-old daughter liked the movie and says I just didn’t get it. Maybe so. I still think there’s a certain amount of responsibility on the filmmaker to make sure I do get it without all the exposition. Also, next time they dream, they should dream up bad guys who could shoot straight.)