By the film's definition, inception is the process of entering someone's mind through his dreams and planting an idea so deep within the subconscious that when he wakes up, the idea feels organic and natural. I would like to know who broke into Christopher Nolan's dream space and dropped the seed that would become the idea for this film, because whoever it is, "it" is an indisputable genius.
Nolan's previous efforts from his debut feature Following
to his breakthrough film, Memento
, have always toyed with the mind, but Inception
takes the filmmaker's mind-bending tendencies to a literal degree. As far as elaborate high-concept stories go, Inception
blows away his earlier films and possibly every film ever made. The painstaking plot and contextual detail of a world where dreams can be shared and people can enter the minds of others and exist with their own free will creates a "wow" factor that has no comparison. If it does, then none of them pull it off half as well as Inception.
Sheer wonder and fascination at the magnitude of what Nolan's own mind has constructed will carry nearly everyone's interest throughout the entire film.
In this world, a group of "dream thieves" led by a man named Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) specialize in an advanced form of corporate espionage -- the stealing of ideas from within the mind. When they find themselves in a spot of trouble after botching a job, their subject (Ken Watanabe) turns around and offers them a shot at redemption. It would entail inception -- a near-impossible feat. Cobb is a fugitive of the United States and if he succeeds, he would get the papers he needs to get through customs and finally see his kids again.
Nolan has literally assembled a "dream team" of up-and-comers and rock solid veterans. The cast combines some of his regulars and past collaborators (Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe) as well as some of the most respected young talents working today (Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy). Regrettably, the plot complexity of Inception
shortchanges most of these characters due to the amount of time the script must spend on explaining itself and its world. Only Cobb, who blames himself for his wife's (Cotillard) death, receives a complex psychological profile, but it provides just enough humanity to make Inception
go beyond thrills. In addition, the poise and maturity of a Page and a Gordon-Levitt give the illusion of multi-dimensional characters which further suggests that Nolan's made more than a fun science-fiction romp, even if maybe that's the bulk of what makes the film great.
also possesses the visual scope of a summer blockbuster despite being such a heady thriller. Nolan uses the film's concept of "dream architecture" (this is the role that Page's character plays in the process) as a chance to create some fascinating locales and film some incomparable action sequences necessary to bump the film up to a more epic status. Conveniently, the inception job involves taking the subject (Murphy) into three dream stages (dreams within dreams ... yea, it gets that intense) which provides three exciting backdrops for the action. No doubt that Nolan took great pleasure in running a locomotive down a city street. The fight scene in a rotating hotel room set stands out as the action highlight and the snowy ski chases on the mountain hospital set could well be Nolan's audition to direct a future James Bond film. So many diverse sets, yet longtime Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister captures them all just right and gives the dream ones a lucid feel that is nice and subtle.
Complex barely begins to describe this monumental undertaking. Nolan must have spent months if not years fleshing out the details and drawing up plans for this idea to make it all work. The script pushes the quote that "ideas are like viruses," growing exponentially, and this film does just that, creating more vast a concept than any moviegoer, casual or junkie, could ever imagine and rapidly so. Not surprisingly, this labyrinthine story is responsible for the film's weaknesses just as much as its strengths, but Nolan has outfitted the film with only the best actors and production members and does not allow confusion or holes in logic to overshadow how immensely entertaining it is.
Despite public perception, Inception
will not be heralded as an entertaining film that has the goods to garner a slew of Oscar nominations for its dramatic content, but instead as one of the most imaginative and brilliant concepts ever executed on the scale of a big-budget blockbuster. Films like this one are almost never born as major studio tentpoles. They often comes from intelligent amateur/independent filmmakers with no budget and just a big dream for a unique film. Nolan, however, has refused to cave in to making pictures that aren't in that spirit and with his success from The Dark Knight
, he is part of the privileged few who can execute this type of film -- one that studios would normally be afraid to back -- on a budget in the hundred millions. If Inception
becomes the financial success expected of it, a new and long-awaited dawn of studios funding complicated high-concept movies could be upon us. Now that's an idea.
Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Joseph thought: "
Christopher Nolan’s latest effort has been touted as the mack daddy of summer blockbusters, with a great deal of hype and the latest in a string of films with a reported budget north of $200 million. He's got some of the best actors around from Dicaprio to Caine, Cotillard, Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page. I considered Nolan's previous film The Dark Knight
in the top three movies made in the last decade, so this movie had a lot to live up to, and yet, it has still surpassed my ridiculously high expectations. I haven't felt this good about spending 9.50 in a long time." Rating: 10/10
"Be warned that this is not summer escapism or a popcorn flick. This is the real deal: a psychological thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end. Nolan's work on the film is absolutely genius, taking you from the disturbing to the surreal and even sometimes to the just plain bizarre. Despite an intensely emotional storyline, Nolan's script doesn't exactly touch on the emotions of the characters. However, the actors more than make up for the script's lack of emotional depth. Leonardo DiCaprio is outstanding in the film's leading role. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Ken Watanabe provide great supporting work, although the roles themselves aren't fully developed. However, it is the ladies that really take home the cake when it comes to acting. Marion Cotillard provides the best performance in the film, as is usual with the Oscar winner. While she only appears at certain times throughout, she brings depth to her character, creating an intimate portrait of a woman that once was. Meanwhile, Ellen Page proves that she can act outside of her "indie" stereotype, making a fully realized character out of a role that could have easily just been a plot device." Rating: 9/10
Simon thought: "While Christopher Nolan’s Inception might have had an easy path to becoming the best movie of the year so far, its lack of notable competition by no means diminishes the sheer creative audacity of this sci-fi mind-bender. Although strung over a simple and inherently entertaining heist film template, Nolan gives the audience so much to contemplate in Inception that it achieves the rare status of a thinking-mans blockbuster, or a film that both challenges the audience and is infinitely more rewarding. In addition to its brilliantly meticulous screenplay, the presentation of the dreamscapes is grounded in a utilitarian semi-reality (more in line with The Matrix) and is a refreshing deviation from the psychedelic dream worlds of films like The Cell. Also, unlike many big-budget summer blockbusters, the impeccable special effects are a stunning compliment to the world Nolan has created, not for a second detracting from the heart and smarts of Inception. This is the film to see this summer and everything we could have dreamed." Rating: 10/10
Kieran thought: "Intelligent, complex, through-provoking and handsomely made ... but enough about me, Inception was incredible and it will make you wish that all blockbusters could match its quality of direction, acting and writing. Nolan gives us a complicated film with large philosophical ideas, but he is able to deliver it in an engaging way. On an action level there are some of the best scenes you'll see all year, whether it's gun battles in the street or in the mountains to a zero-gravity fist fight. Nolan skillfully uses traditional techniques he loves with top-end CGI to make anything possible. Editor Lee Smith does an excellent job with the action sequences and showing events going on simultaneously in different "worlds." There are grand ideas about the psychology of dreams, how the subconscious works, how memory works and how trying to bury your memories can lead to problems, which brings in concepts such as multi-layered dreams, using the subconscious to find out secrets -- interpretation is endless. With a great cast, Nolan uses his recurring theme characters with dark psychological issues playing key roles. But it's not all serious, with Nolan able to lighten events up, using Tom Hardy to offer a little comedy without having to play the fool. Inception should be an early runner for the Academy Awards and be a model for future blockbusters." Rating: 10/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 9.5/10
|Dinah thought: "There are some films that are a challenge to appreciate and Inception is one of them. This is no insult; Christopher Nolan’s previous pictures Memento and The Prestige required multiple viewings to digest. His movies are beautifully complex, leaving room for discussion, interpretation, and dissection. Inception simply puts on display once again Nolan’s ability to leave you wanting more. The characters were as layered as the dreams themselves. Although the movie centers on an idea that is wholly fictional, each player was a real person audience members will want to protect, save, and help along. There was a sparse but effective use of slow motion and a thunderous and valuable application of that garbled resounding gong (the theme in the trailer) that recalls you are in fact watching a movie and have not drifted into the dream yourself. What was surprising is how guarded the special effects were compared to expectations. This film was compared to The Matrix after all. Truly the film was aesthetically pleasing. However, it was quite subtle most of the time save one gravity-defying hallway wrestling match. With precise performances and a wonderfully executed premise, Inception is film artistry few movies truly achieve." Rating: 9/10