Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page
Directed and Written By: Christopher Nolan
Dreams are strange things. I don’t know how many times I’ve woken up after a dream thinking how crazy it was and wondering what on earth I had to eat the night before. In this dream world, we can be and do anything our subconscious wants. That’s what makes them so fun and strange. They can also be the source of amazing inspiration. How many times have you woken up with a nifty idea? This is what Christopher Nolan’s Inception is all about, only instead of your own mind coming up with the idea, people are planting one in there for you. It’s more complicated than it sounds.
Inception is about a man named Cobb (DiCaprio) who, along with his partner Arthur (Levitt), is in the business of “extraction,” or more simply the stealing of ideas from a target’s mind. After a failed extraction mission on a man named Saito (Ken Watanabe), where the idea of Inception is brought up. Arthur believes it’s impossible, but Saito offers Cobb a reward he can’t refuse: the ability to go back home to the United States and be with his children. From there it’s up to the two to build their team including bringing Ariadne (Page) into the fold as the architect, the person who builds the parameters to the dreams.
What happens from here is the planning and execution of a plan to implant an idea into Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) head: the idea to break-up an energy company that he’s an heir to (and happens to be Saito’s only competitor). There is where we get a dream within a dream within a dream, and so on. Naturally they encounter set-backs at each stage, one’s that need inventive ways to overcome. We also learn more about Cobb’s past and how the spectre of his dead wife (Mal played by Marion Cotillard) continually sabotages his plans.
What we have in Inception is a very good movie that takes some brain power, though I felt it was very straight forward and was well explained at each step. There is a good amount of complexity involved: being that there are multiple depths/layers to the dreams going on and that there are many different things going on all at once (quite literally). However, if you just pay attention, it should all be very easy to wrap your mind around. It’s all rather linear, though there are bookend scenes at the beginning and very close to the end.
Christopher Nolan has already described Inception has an heist movie and that’s what it actually is: the implanting and stealing of ideas. However, the difference is obviously the setting. It takes place in the minds of the characters involved (mostly in Robert Fischer’s brain). This makes anything possible, (through there are rules: our subconscious doesn’t like others invading it’s space) including the changing of design while inside the dream, incredible fight scenes in a rotating hall, and just being an all around bad-ass in that particular world.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb is the main character and is really the only one with an arc of any sort (more on this later). He does a fine job and is very convincing as a troubled soul. Ellen Page’s Ariadne is new to the group and is the ground in which the audience follows. We learn about things as she does. However, it is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur that’s the star of the movie. He just does a great job and gets to do all the cool things in the movie (like the before mentioned hallway fight). The rest is solid, especially Watanabe and Murphy (though it’s always a good idea to put Michael Caine in your movie).
As stated before, the only character that’s actually defined is Cobb. The rest are there to fulfill their roles in Cobb’s story. We do find out various things about him, albeit very slowly. Mal had committed suicide but the authorities think Cobb actually murdered her. This is why he’s on the run and can never return to the United States. While he actually didn’t do the deed, he feels responsible for her death (I won’t say why in case you haven’t seen it). This is why Mal appears in Cobb’s dreams, even while he’s on a mission. She is the embodiment of the guilt he harbors within himself and she wrecks havoc upon not just Cobb, but the rest of the team as well.
Now we come to the very much talked about ending. I will not get into specifics, but let’s just say that there’s no real conclusion. We aren’t told what happens at the end nor do we know the impact of this on the rest of the movie. Some people might not like this. However, I don’t believe every movie should be handed to us with a bow on top. With Inception it’s up to us to decide what happens. We will lean one way or the other and that’s how we see not only the movie, but the world we live in. Are you an optimist? Or are you a pessimist? That will ultimately decide how you think this film ends. Simply ask yourself: “How did/do you want it to end?”
Bottom Line: Christopher Nolan strikes again! Inception is a very good movie. The performances are all good, the premise is amazing, and there’s just a lot of really cool things going on throughout the film. However, I didn’t see it as particularly hard to follow or mind blowing. Just pay attention and you’ll be fine. Watch it again because it’s fantastic, not because there are things you didn’t get. I assure you, you’ll be okay.
9/10 (Highly Recommended).