Thursday, December 23, 2010


Directed by Christopher Nolan.
2010. Rated PG-13, 148 minutes.
Leonardo DiCaprio
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Ellen Page
Ken Watanabe
Tom Hardy
Marion Cotillard
Cillian Murphy
Dileep Rao
Tom Berenger
Michael Caine

Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is a unique sort of criminal. He’s often hired by companies to steal secrets from their competitors. What makes him uniqe is that he actually enters a person’s mind through their dreams to unlock these treasures. His latest employer, Mr. Saito (Watanabe), wants something different. Mr. Saito wants him to do the opposite and plant an idea in the mind of his biggest competitor’s son Robert Fischer (Murphy). Putting an idea into someone’s mind, we learn, is called “inception” and thought by most to be impossible. Cobb says he can deliver and sets out hiring a crack staff to help him do so.

At any given moment we are thrust into and kicked out of dreams. We watch land and cityscapes change before our eyes, often in impossible ways. We see how time operates on different levels of consciousness. We see Dom’s own sanity slipping as too much time spent in other people’s minds, along with the things going on in his own, take a steadily increasing toll on him and threatens his and the team’s ability to complete the mission.

This is far from a simple movie. Like many fantasy or science-fiction films, it asks us to accept something seemingly preposterous as a sort of reality. The difference between Inception and the majority of others is simple. For the two hours or so we’re watching those others, it’s mutually understood that the reality on screen is wholly separate from our own. We know that no amount of exposure to gamma rays is going to transform us into The Hulk. Here, we’re given cause to wonder about our own dreams and the odd events that occur during the portions we can remember. And what about those parts we can’t remember?

Amazingly, even with all the jumping in and out of dreams and playing with reality, Inception is not nearly as convoluted or complicated as it could’ve been. Like I said, though, nor is it simple. With incredible special fx, astute storytelling, enough action infused into the proceedings and another great performance by DiCaprio, it strikes a perfect balance between entertaining us and challenging us.

Speaking of DiCaprio, he’s becoming the go-to-guy for leading men with less than a firm grip of reality. Here, as well as in The Departed and most recently in Shutter Island, he plays a guy who struggles with the concept. Kudos to him for being brilliant in all three.

As I’ve mentioned, the special fx are also brilliant. Worlds coming together and falling apart as we watch provide splendid visuals. In particular, the city that folds over on itself is an awe-inspiring moment. My only gripe is that I didn’t see it on the big screen. I may not ever get to see it in a theater, but I definitely plan on seeing it on something bigger than my 32” television. Yes, I’m putting my pennies aside.

All of the great things Inception does would be for naught if it blew the ending. Thankfully, it does nothing of the sort. Surprisingly, it leaves us right where it tells us it will and somehow, it still works. It works because we hope against hope that that’s not how it will end. Still, when it does we’re left to wonder and debate what’s next. It’s a perfect ending that I hope isn’t ruined by a sequel.

MY SCORE: 10/10

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