Are you watching closely? Well, you don’t have to watch too closely because with Inception Christopher Nolan created an original film as accessible as his Batman films. Whereas Mememto and The Prestige are genuine puzzle pictures that make demands on the audience, Inception is simply an illusion, like the Penrose staircase which features in the film. In Memento, everything is one long reveal, a painful, painstaking drawing out of revelation which viewer and protagonist both struggle towards; in The Prestige, we are told the answer up front but through sleight of hand we are made to forget this; in Inception, we are merely talked through a series of (superbly) nested realities.
Am I complaining? No, not really. In terms of sophistication, it is a lesser film to the other two I have mentioned; however, as an achievement, creating an intelligent existential action thriller that is true summer blockbuster is a remarkable achievement. Basically, you couldn’t wish for a better director than Nolan to re-make The Matrix and he has done so with far greater style and wit. At the same time, I hope he manages to stay fresh. The tone, the construction, the score, the use of flashbacks, the playing with memory: this is all very familiar now. The denouement of all his films have been essentially the same. Nolan might be ploughing a unique furrow but how long before he gets stuck in a rut?