Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
You know, if Christopher Nolan wasn't such a great filmmaker, I'd hate the guy for being so consistently meticulous.
That being said, his latest project, Inception is a thriller unlike anything you've ever seen. Perhaps The Matrix is the closest comparison I can make to this, but even The Matrix was more accessible to audiences thanks to the far out action sequences it had.
Inception takes place in a world where corporate espionage is possible by someone entering someone else's dreams and stealing their secrets. One such person is Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who is known for being the best mind thief there is out there.
After Cobb fails to extract information from his target, Saito (Ken Watanabe), Saito offers him a job. A unique job that isn't about extracting information, but planting an idea in a target. Cobb initially refuses to take it, but Saito offers him a chance to return to the U.S., where he is a wanted man, to reunite with his kids again and all charges against him dropped. Cobb accepts, and learns that the job involves putting an idea in the mind of Saito's business rival's son, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). The idea: to dissolve his dying father's business.
To perform the job, called 'inception', Cobb and his associate Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) recruit a team of individuals: Ariadne (Ellen Page) as the architect to design the dream, Eames (Tom Hardy) as the forger to assume identities in the dream, and Yusuff (Dileep Rao) as the chemist to provide the required substances to put Fischer in the deep sleep necessary for it to work. The job is very complex and risky, and Arthur and Ariadne make their concerns obvious, but Cobb is driven to make it work. Ariadne in particular, knows that Cobb has issues in his past in relation to his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) and tries to help him along the way.
And as expected in a heist film, even one as unique as this, things go wrong and the fun begins.
Was all that too much information for you? Oh don't worry, you can know all of this and still enjoy it, trust me. I was very annoyed by statements made by movie fans prior to the film's release saying that they didn't want to know anything about the film for fear of ruining their enjoyment. Even some movie reviews steered clear from plot details. Well I say, screw that! You know what ruins movie enjoyment? HYPE! If you go in anticipating a classic, you risk yourself getting less than what you expected and that's when disappointment really sets in. That's not to say I did the opposite and tried to gather as much information as I could, but I certainly didn't drool over Inception and got so worked up about it.
Anyway, with all that said, Inception really is good. It's tricky, clever, complex and fascinating indeed. Plenty of credit goes out to Nolan for writing and directing such an intelligent piece of work. It's like The Italian Job meets The Matrix, with a lot more cerebral elements involved. I particularly loved the special effects used to create the dreamworlds, like the city 'folding' onto itself and buildings getting destroyed when the dream collapses. There's a scene where Arthur fights someone in a hotel corridor in zero gravity in a dream, and it is pretty neat to watch. Kudos also goes out to Nolan's favourite cameraman, Wally Pfister who does an excellent job shooting the film.
Almost everyone gives their best performance on screen here. Cotillard is a bit wasted with her one note performance, probably due to the way her character was written, but everyone else is splendid in their roles. DiCaprio leads the way as Cobb, a flawed and vulnerable man, yet brilliant enough to pull off what seems impossible. He is very believable as the man driven to do whatever it takes to return home to his kids. Gordon-Levitt and Page also stand out as Arthur and Ariadne respectively. Gordon-Levitt is funny, steadfast and reliable as Arthur while as Ariadne, Page becomes the heart of the team.
So are there any flaws? Well, when I think about it, Inception isn't nearly as accessible to audiences as I'd hope it would be. Sure, the film made a nice box office triumph in its opening week and film critics are still singing praises about it. But will it cater to everyone who sees it? All that mumbo jumbo about how a dream works and how to step inside it and be in control may confuse many people. Inception will no doubt be a hit amongst sci-fi fans, but for a person that goes to see this simply by word of mouth, he/she may end up being let down if they expected something easier to fathom.
But I am impressed with this film nonetheless. It may not be as amazing as The Prestige or Nolan's Batman films, but it is a fine piece of quality cinema. Recommended. (4/5)