16
Jul
2010
Review: Inception
Inception
Sam
Christopher Nolan's newest puzzle piece film, Inception, would be dizzyingly chaotic in the hands of just about any other writer or director.

The likely blockbuster is about a group of thieves, but they aren't your ordinary criminals pulling off the ordinary heist. They are extractors, who steal ideas and information from people in their dreams. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the most skilled extractor who takes the lead on all of the jobs, though a troubled past involving his wife (Marion Cotillard) is becoming a distraction.

Joined by an architect named Ariadne (Ellen Page), a trusty right-hand man (Joseph-Gordon Levitt) and an impersonator of sorts (Tom Hardy), Cobb goes for one last job-an inception. This is more difficult than extraction because it is about implanting an idea, much more difficult than extracting one.

DiCaprio takes the gig because he is promised to be reunited with his estranged children by a businessman named Saito (Ken Watanabe). Saito wants to implant an in the mind of a young heir (Cillian Murphy) to dissolve his father's company. Cobb really has no choice but to take the gig, setting up one of the most creative spins on the heist film.

But to label Inception would be much too simplistic and not give credit to the depth of the story. DiCaprio borders on over-acting as he struggles with his past with his wife and his longing to get back with his children. But the familial issue Cobb suffers with never really brings the story down as it felt like it may in the first act of the film.

Nolan makes things more complicated for himself and his characters by including dreams within dreams, within dreams (and sometimes farther). Early explanations of these dream rules are equivalent to slowly stepping into a pool-initial apprehension at the overwhelming sensory overload, the audience gets used to it and finally is glad they got in.

Nolan has gotten much praise of late for his recent work with the Batman franchise, especially The Dark Knight, though Inception harkens back to his Memento days where putting together a creative, if not linear, narrative is what's designed to give audiences the real thrill.

From the director's chair Nolan delivers as well providing appropriately mind bending visuals like a city folding in on itself and fights happening in apparent zero gravity. But the way he is able to tell a potentially muddled story is what is most impressive. That's not to say the film is without holes, but the writing is tight enough that any of the problems are incredibly easily overlooked by the audience and those found within the film are the size of a needles tip.

For years the "It was all a dream!" line has been used by lazy writers looking for a way out, but Nolan is able to effectively use it as a way in. We know when it's a dream. The characters tell us.

Of course this is fantasy, but Nolan is able to verbalize and contextualize what it is like to be dreaming and to be a player in these visions. We see what the start of a dream looks like and we feel how time is perceived in different states of consciousness. The action and tension all deliver but what most is stunning is how Nolan is able to keep everything in line, placing all the puzzle pieces to deliver the best film of the summer. Sweet dreams, indeed.

A
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