When director Christopher Nolan first contributed to the world of cinema in the year 1998 with the uniquely structured Following, I don’t think anyone could have possibly predicted how far he would come in just over 11 years. Sure, Following was certainly a creative flick, some may go so far as to call it an innovative work of genius, but to imagine that the main man behind the camera would end up being one of the most prestigious filmmakers in the business would be madness. Madness? This. Is. SPARTA!! Uh, yeah.
In 2008 Nolan became something of a household name with the masterful Batman magnum opus that was The Dark Knight, but what’s really going to deservedly spread his name around among the public (hopefully at the Oscars too) is his newest and most ambitious project yet. “It’s called Inception,” Leonardo DiCaprio says. Thank you, Leonardo.
To sum up the unqualified brilliance of Inception, I want you to think of it as a dashingly handsome man who takes you out on a date to a top-notch restaurant. You eat delicious delicacies while he wittingly converses with you and teaches you all there is to know about his grand and magnificent self and you listen to every titillating word to come out of his majestic mouth. He then takes you back to his luxurious mansion and up to his lavish bedroom where he makes passionate, monumentally satisfying love to you, giving you a screaming, awe-inspiring orgasm, after which he snuggles with you, holding you close. And in the morning, after the best breakfast in bed you’ve ever had, you sadly must depart from this man who you have fervently fallen in love with over such a short amount of time. Soon enough, you are inevitably left begging for more of him and his fascinating splendor. Basically.
I’ve seen a lot of reviewers avoiding explanations of this wonderful film’s plot so as to not ruin the experience, but a few simple details wouldn’t hurt. After all, the trailers essentially give away a fair amount of information anyway. DiCaprio is Dominic Cobb, a fugitive with a device which allows him, along with anyone else hooked up to the case-sized gadget, to mentally enter – or invade – the dreams of any sleeping person. He’s what you call an extractor, one who, once inside your head, can steal your most precious secrets and do with them as he wishes.
He’s been recruited by big-time businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to enter the mind of Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), the son of terminally ill Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), who runs Saito’s rival company. However, instead of stealing a secret, Cobb has been ordered to plant an idea into Robert’s head so that he will eventually destroy his father’s corporation. This difficult process is called inception. In return, Cobb will stop being hunted down by the law for a reason I won’t give away.
Cobb then goes about assembling a team consisting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao and newcomer Ellen Page to help him complete this inexorably difficult task. Unsurprisingly, complications arise, each increasing the hazardous nature of the dreams and aiding in the spectacular extravaganza and mind-bending puzzle this film is.
I have absolutely no hesitation in stating that Inception is a masterpiece, nor do I in comparing Nolan to other geniuses of his craft, such as Kubrick or Hitchcock. What he has done is he has created a film which will be remembered years from now as a cornerstone in the film-making industry and one of the utmost quality.
Right from the word go, we are thrown into a dream. We are deeply confused and unfamiliar with this physics-defying world, but make sure you stay with it as all, if not most, will be explained in the exposition-heavy first hour. Yes, exposition is usually a sign of lazy writing, but I can’t discredit it here because everything we are being told is so god damn interesting.
This first hour is used to explain the many, many intricate and complicated rules which incorporate the sleep-induced fantasies our main characters root around in. We have information thrown at us at a mile a millisecond about what to do in a dream, what not to do, the subconscious of those breaking into the dreams, how time is affected, how to get out of dreams and overall just what the bloody hell is going on. It’s all suitably mesmerizing.
This is all setting up for the breathtaking final 90 minutes, which is jam-packed with astonishingly inventive action, including a jaw-dropping anti-gravity fight sequence in a hotel corridor. This scene, in and of itself, is an outstanding achievement in film-making and had my chin quickly flopping to the floor in awe of the sheer audacity of what I was watching.
Hans Zimmer’s remarkably delightful score loudly blares out of the speakers, practically tearing through the screen, commendably standing up to the extraordinary images being displayed on-screen. It’s on a par with his terrific score for Nolan’s last movie, The Dark Knight, of which I am a fan.
The film has a stellar cast with every lead successfully carrying such a weighty script on their shoulders and each doing it in an exceedingly memorable fashion. Leo is a great leading man, taking us through the powerful emotional journey his character endures. He’s very likable, you feel for him and the ominous situation he has found himself in. There’s also the secretive element of danger he brings to the team, unbeknownst to them, due to a scarring memory which just makes the film all the more tense.
Gordon-Levitt, who you’ll know from 500 Days of Summer (he’s building up quite the résumé) is similarly watchable, playing Leo’s right-hand man Arthur, who also helps in the training of Page’s character, the young Ariadne (is that even a real name?). Page is the one the audience relies on for asking all of the questions about the laws of the dreams as she curiously explores her mind with Cobb and Arthur. Appropriately, she’s a pleasant enough character with an inquisitive demeanor.
It’s Tom Hardy who steals the show, however, as Eames, a character who has a special ability inside the dreams, which is another thing I won’t give away. His character is the typically smart-mouthed, quick-witted type you’ve seen in a thousand movies before, but Hardy brings a striking charisma to the role, which of course comes naturally to him. He’s undoubtedly the most appealing cast member.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if the film’s increasingly complex ideas enormously confuse many viewers as I myself became a bit lost at some points. The thought of dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams (seriously) may be a bit too much to handle for some moviegoers unprepared for Nolan’s mind-fuck of a movie, so I’d advise to pay specific attention to every word the characters are saying, as you indeed should with every film you watch actually.
I cannot praise Inception enough, I came out of my screening with the overwhelming sense that I’d just witnessed something genuinely spectacular. It’s one of the most flawlessly inventive pieces of art I’ve ever had the extreme pleasure of watching and I can say without a doubt in my mind that there is no other film like this. If there’s one movie you go see this year, just one movie, make sure it’s Inception. It is gorgeous, it is beautiful, it is an epic masterpiece and it is here, waiting for you. Oblige it.
Ten outta ten