Inception (Nolan, 2010)IMDB Link
I want to first get the “Inception”/“The Matrix” comparison out of the way. I don’t want to be overly dramatic but “Inception” has none of the qualities that made “The Matrix” such a trendsetting, exciting, and relevant film at the end of the 90s. We didn’t like “The Matrix” because of it being an action film playing with the concepts of the reality and non-reality, with lots of visual ingenuity, something that “Inception” also has. No, we liked “The Matrix”, because all of us were Mr Andersons. Whether we were in school or at work, we weren’t really that happy. We watched “The Matrix” and imagined it was us, and there was something more to life, and we could be chosen, we could be The One, save the world, get the girl, and use our MIND to kick some ass! It was boyish fun, and it was the reason we always watched action films, but while we knew we could never be Jean Claude Van Damme or Bruce Lee, we felt that we could be Neo. It didn’t matter if we didn’t have muscles or skills, neither did Anderson. All that was needed was understanding that the life we lived in was not real. And understanding that, there were endless possibilities.
There is none of that in “Inception”. I felt no joy, no awe, no wonder in playing with the idea of entering a dream world. In “Inception”, the non-reality world, the dream world, was dull. It was just like our real world, except people chasing you and trying to kill you. I wanted Cobbs, the experienced, professional, supposedly highly skilled dreamwalker, to have some sort of impact when he entered a dream. I wanted to see Reality Cobbs and Dream Cobbs having different set of skills. But the whole dream team never grabbed me the way the team did in “Matrix”. Ordinary people becoming much more when they enter non-reality. We don’t like reality because we don’t feel like everything is possible. If we have the same limitations in alternative worlds, then why care?
Which brings me to the next thought. Has Christian Nolan never had a dream? Have none of the audiences or critics ever had dreams? None of the dreams I ever had were so devastatingly dull as the dreams in “Inception”. Dreams are illogical, chaotic, disjointed, surreal, and make some sort of sense only when dreaming. Remove everything that makes dreams unique, then you are not really left with something we should call dreams at all. I can understand the reason Nolan made it dreams so much reality-based and logical. Because it’s easier to engage the audience. You can’t make the great summer blockbuster with dreams resembling something Lynch would do, but I surely will not applaud Nolan for taking the easy route.
I read somewhere that Nolan waited before he made this film because he wanted to have big-budget film experience first. It was a good decision, because he knows what exactly the audience wants. But what the audience wants should not always be praiseworthy. Everything Nolan does in “Inception” is calculated to please the audience. But it really is an empty film, its biggest insult remains in being unable to capture a dream world’s illogical beauty. Nolan never really has fun with his own idea. His ultra-serious, humorless approach turned me off. And so busy in presenting his ideas that he never pulled back and allowed any wonder to enter his work. Barely getting into the movie, we see Cobbs failing at his job. Before we get into a movie such as this, I want to see someone like Cobbs being brilliant at his job, and then failing at a later stage. If I never see a successful execution of the whole concept of stealing an idea from someone while they are dreaming, then being told that inception, inserting an idea in someone’s head while dreaming, is almost impossible means nothing to me. I haven’t even been captured by the first idea, how is the second idea any different to me? And barely into the movie, I am being told about “dream within a dream”. Can’t we do this step by step? Can’t I first feel the amazement of entering a dream, get used to that, and then be presented by “dream within a dream”, so I go, “holy shit!!”
I want to wrap up this review, but I keep realizing how many things are wrong with film. Think about this. If you are a major corporation head that just had a group trying to steal something from you, BUT FAILED, why on earth would you suddenly offer them to do something even MORE difficult? If someone comes to my house to steal my laptop and I stop them, I bet my first thought wouldn’t be to offer them a job to steal Bill Gate’s laptop. Or how about a college professor introducing a young student protégé to his son-in-law so that he can offer her an ILLEGAL JOB? It’s irresponsible, but let’s just pretend the professor was irresponsible, but it’s also risky. Couldn’t the student just have gone to the authorities and reported that her college professor had introduced her to criminal activities? Of course, she easily accepts. Or think forward to another scene, where Cobbs is trying to drug his target. They do this complicated maneuver on the plane. Someone bumps into the target, steals his passport, hands it over to Cobbs, who then uses it to strike up a conversation with the target, gives him the passport back, has the stewardess bring them two waters, quickly puts in the sedation drug, and offers the target his glass. And then two seconds later we realize the stewardess is on the whole thing, so she could have just fucking drugged the water herself and brought it to him!
I could probably go on, but let’s conclude it.
“The Matrix” was about an ordinary man being able to be more than that. “Inception” is yet another heist movie about the guy doing just one final job. Both of them played around with the idea of reality/non-reality. The former used to create a wonder in us that has remained with us since. In the latter, it is merely a plot device to slightly tweak the heist genre. The comparison is not only unjustifiable, but almost an insult. 2/5
The Other Guys (McKay, 2010)IMDB Link"No, I don't like you. I think you're a fake cop. The sound of your piss hitting the urinal, it sounds feminine. If you were in the wild, I would attack you, even if you weren't in my food chain. I would go out of my way to attack you. If I were a lion and you were a tuna, I would swim out in the middle of the ocean and freaking eat you and then I'd bang your tuna girlfriend. "
There is a really funny movie here, but somehow it does not always work. I think that’s usually my problem with most comedy action films. You have some very funny dialogues, but the action scenes are usually just tiresome. Action scenes belong in edge of your seat action films or big blockbuster action movies, but wrapped around comical scenes, they usually feel like a waste of time. Only a few movies can be both exciting (action-wise) and funny at the same time.
“The Other Guys” is not one of them.
Two superstar cops (played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) are constantly saving the city from criminals. But the movie is not about them, it is about the other guys, Allen (Will Ferrell) and Terry (Mark Wahlberg), two policemen that are at the opposite extreme of the cool duo. Allen is happy doing paperwork at the office and Terry is stuck with him, due to shooting a popular sports player by accident, causing him to be hated and mocked by other cops. Terry tries to push his partner into going out and solving crimes, but Allen is reluctant.
Most of this set-up is great and the dynamic between Wahlberg and Ferrell is great, with Wahlberg playing his second comical role in 2010. And man, Wahlberg is so short!
Would have been a better film if the action scenes had either been reduced or done better. Third act was not as good as the rest of the film, which brought the whole thing down.3/5