Dreams are funny things. You never know how you actually get anywhere in a dream if you stop and think about it. You just kind of appear in places. Scenes and people change constantly. People in your dreams may look like other people. Everything is fluid, limited only by the depths of your imagination and the limits of your subconscious. Now, however, director Christopher Nolan has turned dreams into one of the best heist films in recent years with his masterpiece Inception.
The rumor that has been going around is that this is a complicated film. Apparently any summer film that requires a film-goer to spend a little time paying attention or requires the viewer to give it a little bit of thought immediately becomes “complicated.” While the movie is not nearly as mindless as other summer fair such as Twilight: Eclipse or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice it is, quite frankly, one of the best movies of the year so far.
Leondardo DiCaprio plays a man named Dom Cobb. He is the best at what he does and what he does in infiltrate a mark’s dreams and steal information. He knows his way around a human’s subconscious better than anyone else on the planet. However, this career as a thief has cost him dearly. His wife is dead, and he has been forced to flee his home and his children. The people he work for do not take failure lightly and there is more than one price on his head.
He is teamed up with Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays Arthur. Arthur also infiltrates dreams and is the point man. He is responsible for doing the extensive research needed to successfully infiltrate a victim’s dreams.
Getting into someone’s dreams involves taking some kind of drug that syncs up the various dreamers and keeps them under. It then involves creating worlds within the mark’s mind so that they think they are just in another dream. To create these worlds they need an architect, who creates the worlds with such detail that the victim doesn’t realize they are even within a dream. If the architect isn’t good enough then the victim’s subconscious will know the brain is being infiltrated and then try to eliminate the threat. This often appears as big guys with guns.
The problem with Cobb, however, is that his own guilt and fear over what has happened in his personal life and with his wife has started to sneak into his mind. So, when he is in the dreams of his intended victim’s mind his own problems, fears and guilt manifest themselves and try to trip him up.
Now, however, Cobb has been contacted by a businessman named Saito. He wants Cobb to do something different. He wants to implant an idea in the victim’s mind. He wants the victim to believe he came up with the idea himself and the “inception” to be so perfect that the idea will take hold and become his own thought. If Cobb can accomplish that, then Saito can help him get home.
Cobb immediately recruits Ariadne, played by the wonderful Ellen Page, as his new architect. She is one of the best he has ever seen and she soon sees the problem that Cobb is having. There are amazing scenes of Ariadne creating worlds and turning the entire city of Paris back on itself to create a kind of box-like network of buildings and streets, all of which run at the same time.
Cobb also recruits Eames (Tom Hardy) who can manipulate himself in the dreams and look like anyone. His final recruit is Yusuf (Dileep Rao) as the Chemist. He has a drug that will allow them to get so deep within their mark’s subconscious that they will be able to create a dream within a dream within a dream. Only by getting that deep do they hope to accomplish the inception.
What follow is so mind-bending, spell-binding and amazing that it is almost hard to explain. In many ways the entire movie is a heist film. However, this time the people involved are breaking in to leave something instead of stealing. Nolan, meanwhile, adds layer after continuous layer, turning the screws on the plot and increasing the tension.
Reportedly Nolan worked on the script for this film for over ten years. He came up with the idea when he was working on his seminal movie Memento. The work shows. While his other films have had flaws, the flaws in this one are miniscule to non-existent. The movie jumps from one amazing scent to another, at times with breakneck speed and with the amazing Hans Zimmer score adding to the depth of each scene.
The film’s key moments come near the end. There is a scene that takes place in a hotel that is one of the best scenes I have seen in ages. As gravity suddenly becomes a moot point, seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt as he fights off bits of subconscious using the ceilings, wall and floors is amazing. As he ties up floating bodies and guides them down the hall, my eyes were popping. I wanted to thank Nolan for taking the time to film this amazing scene.
Ultimately, despite the dazzling effects, the movie comes down to Cobb’s redemption. Can he comes to terms with the elements of his past that are threatening to destroy him completely from inside out? In that way Nolan helps centers the film, gives it emotional depth and provides the viewer with something else besides whether or not a group of thieves will accomplish their break-in.
Visually this movie is above par. Each of the cast seems perfect for their role. The story is complex enough to keep your mind active and to make the two-and-a-half hours seem to fly by. There is very little down time with this movie and despite the fact that the movie has chase scenes and shoot-outs it does not succumb to cliche. With the characters so three-dimensional and the plot so well done you actually care about what happens and that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the chasing, shooting and fighting.
So far Christopher Nolan has been a total success for me. I have loved all of his movies. He brilliantly re-invented the comic book movies. He has managed to surpass the excellence of The Dark Knight and created something that borrows a little from movies like Dark City and The Matrix but makes something truly new and exciting.
This is one of the year’s best films.