This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Logan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
It's kinda crazy that Inception was made. Like we've had high concept sci-fi stuff like this before, but never at such a huge scale and as complex as in this movie. I cannot even imagine what it was like to watch this in 2010, with no idea of it's concepts. Inception is such a staple, being one of the most definitive films of the 2010's, that it's now pretty engrained in pop culture, wether it be parodies of the film, the BWAAAAAAM sound that came to define all trailers from then on out, the concept of dreams within dreams and situations where there's layers within layers being referred to as "like Inception"
The thing about Inception and Nolan as a whole is that yes he uses lots of big, flashy tricks, but those tricks are grounded in story and characters, so having those big concepts or bold editing choices are purely vehicles to tell a story. Memento is told backwards, but that directly plays into the plot and our main characters state of confusion. Dunkirk has 3 separate storylines taking place over different periods of time, but that's only done as it's the most ergonomic way of telling these interwoven storylines.
Inception has its dream within dreams idea, there's rules and logic, a whole different thought process to wrap your head around, but it's ultimately grounded through Cobbs' story. It's a movie about the fictional realities of the mind, how we use dreams and imagination to cope and process reality. The whole mission is to control that process, Fischer ultimately grieves and reconciles his relationship with his father, purely in his mind. Was his father calling him a disappointment on his deathbed, or did he actually say that he was disappointed that Fischer was trying to be like him, essentially admitting his own failures to him? It's not important what happened, but what's important is Fischer believes that's what he said and thus is able to let go of that pain and move on, which is very reflective of Cobbs' arc of letting go of his wife and being able to reconcile the fact that she's gone and returning back to his kids. That through line runs through the entire film and fulfilling that emotional arc is more important to Nolan than the conceptual storytelling.
Obviously, the concept is a big part of it, and it's so creatively used, that opening scene that is able to really effectively set up this mind bending concept, then using Ellen Page as an audience stand in later on to fill us in on more detail and exposition of, not even how everything works, but just the rules of its world and then these rules are bent to their absolute limits as we jump between 4 different layers of dreams by the end. It's all perfectly co-ordinated to make this huge concept feel natural and understandable.
There's also other ways to look at the story, there's a common one that this whole film is reflective of the filmmaking process, they're trying to create an emotional response in somebody's head, so they create a world to express those ideas. They have an actor, a set designer, a director, a producer and so forth. There's several allegory's to the filmmaking process that come about from looking at it in this way, and it's an interesting extra layer to this already packed film.
This is one of the best action films ever made in my opinion, just for the sheer boldness of it all. I am very excited for Tenet, and hopefully it can do something just as insane, but my one worry going into it is I'm not sure about how it's going to work as a story. I'm sure whatever crazy concepts Nolan plays with will be incredible just on a sheer technical level, but I'm worried about how that's going to play into the story and the characters. When your main character is seemingly just called "The Protagonist", that could imply a lesser focus on character and more so on spectacle, which I really hope Nolan doesn't fully indulge in, but I guess we have to wait and see