Ladies and gentleman, your ultimate Summer blockbuster has arrived. Inception has been shrouded in mystery virtually since its onset, and the hype surrounding Christopher Nolan's mind-bending thriller has only intensified over time. The film lives up to expectations, delivering a solid, action-packed ride that provides as much food for thought as eye-popping special effects.
Leonardo DiCaprio is our leading man, Dom Cobb, who has the ability to infiltrate the dreams of others with intention to extract information from the subject's subconscious. But extraction can't be done alone; it's an involved process that necessitates extensive research, a well-organized plan, and a team of players. Once inside, Cobb has mastered the art of manipulating his artificial surroundings to obtain the information or idea he needs — but his own inner demons are beginning to muck up the process.
As far as I'm concerned, the less you know about the film, the more exhilarating the experience will be — but for more on why I liked the film, just keep reading.
A fugitive who just wants to return home to his kids, Cobb agrees to take part in a seemingly impossible heist in exchange for personal exemption. To execute his plan, he assembles a team that includes right-hand man and straight shooter, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an architect to design the dreamscape perfectly Ariadne (Ellen Page) among others. But his crew quickly begins to realize that Cobb's commitment to the job goes far beyond professional interest, putting all of their lives at risk.
Nolan wrote and directed the film, and the finished product is clearly a labor of love. The story is airtight and takes time to develop even the smallest of details, leaving nary a plot hole in sight. The intricacies of traveling from a dream into a dream into a dream are mind numbing to say the least, but Nolan lays out his plan in the most apprehensible way possible — so long as you don't wander off down a path to your own subconscious.
Like a dream itself, the audience is instantly thrown into Cobb's fantasy world without much warning or background. As the plot unfolds, Nolan challenges us to figure out how the pieces fit together, question what's real and what's a vision, and contemplate what might be lurking in our own innermost thoughts.
DiCaprio turns in yet another satisfying performance; Cobb is driven by urgency but is not without a conscience, and you can see his inner turmoil all over DiCaprio's face. Gordon-Levitt and Page get the job done, though the study of their characters is a bit more perfunctory; basically they're just props in the maze that Nolan has created.
And what a maze it is: in sequences that feel like an MC Esher work come to life, Nolan's characters manipulate the dream world in a way that's fascinating and alarmingly realistic. The world is literally turned upside down, gravity is defied and mountains crumble. Even if the plot loses you, the gripping imagery will keep you under lock and key until the credits roll.
New ideas are few and far between in Hollywood these days, but Inception kept me rapt by embodying the element that I crave most in a film: it's unlike anything I've ever seen before.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros