Monday, 19 July 2010
You can easily imagine the production process setting out to tick as many boxes as possible. Love story? Tick. Car chase? Tick Cool special effects? Tick. Psychological drama? Tick? Dash of James Bond? Tick. Leading man who can be relied upon to provide a solid performance? Tick. Cameo from loveable old English actor for added likeability? Tick. Cameo from much respected senior English actor for a bit of added gravitas? Tick. Sexy female lead? Tick. Youthful central character for the younger audience to identify with? Tick.
The astounding thing is that despite this, the film worked on so many levels (no pun intended) all at once. It could have been a complete mess. I could so easily have been left wondering, "Why on earth didn't you make your mind up what kind of film you want to be." Could have, but wasn't. Thriller, action movie, special effects fest, love story. Yes, yes, yes and yes. All of these in one very effective and coherent package just148 minutes long. Top notch directing.
So why not great? The central theme of the subconscious.
While the film plays around with dreams and the virtually inaccessible depths of the human mind in an intriguing way it doesn't seem to me to present any particularly new big ideas. Some people have made comparisons with the Matrix. The Matrix was better. Whereas both films examine issues of perception and reality the Matrix was far more zeitgeisty. The notion of the subconscious has indeed been a world view shifter. But it's a concept that's been around for yonks and has probably already done most of the shifting it's going to do. Artificial intelligence and the relationship between humanity technology, truth and reality on the other hand; loads more mileage.
Then there's the film's particular vision of the subconscious. Seems to me that most people's mental nether regions are probably considerably darker and weirder than the film allows. It's nowhere near as dark as The Dark Night. Perhaps Terry Gilliam should be given the sequel - and told to forget the 12A rating.
So, while I found the film entertaining, moving and intriguing - not quite the full five stars. Still the best film I've seen this year though.