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This is the film I’ve been waiting for all year. Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is a visual splendor three years in the making with the cultural value to last decades. Prepare yourself for a dreamlike yarn not – unlike most dreams – easily forgotten.
No need for patronizing back-story and over-explanation, “Inception” jumps right into the action. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are the master thieves of the mind. Forget Freud’s contributions to understanding the dreamscape, these guys are in the middle of the R.E.M. action. It’s not enough for them to simply enter a person’s mind, oh no, they go deeper, creating various dreams within dreams to further confuse their targets as they extract hidden secrets for major businesses.
Once an innovative scholar who unlocked the technology to travel the dreamscape, Cobb is a criminal wanted in the U.S. for murder. Isolated from his children and family, he finds jobs where he can, using his creation to do dirty work for big businesses. But stealing information is of little consequence for new client Saito (Ken Watanabe), who wants an idea planted in someone’s mind.
To achieve what’s referred to as “inception,” Cobb puts together a team suited for such an impossible task — a group of thinkers who know just as much about psychology and problem solving as him. Allowing us to enter this foreign world of dream walking, we’re introduced to grad student Ariadne (Ellen Page). As she’s introduced to this mindbreaking technology and the rules of strolling through the cerebral cortex so are we, the curious viewers (think Morpheus explaining the rules of the Matrix to Neo)—and like many great sci-fi films, the role of the viewer is paramount to the point of “Inception” (just don’t expect me to give it away).
With other teammates Eames (Tom Hardy) and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the game is set and the match is ready to take place in the mind of businessman Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy). Too bad many unexpected obstacles lie on the other side of the team’s eyelids, like the lingering memory of Cobb’s dead wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), whose thoughts become hostile in the land of counting sheep.
It’s hard not to be excited about this film and think of various uses of hyperbole to describe “Inception’s” greatness. Alas it is a wonder to behold with enough inspiration to save Hollywood from itself. If only studios would listen to the sound of audiences gasping in unison, drowning in the most intoxicating film of the last few years with triple the intelligence level of most blockbuster trash, and other films for that matter.
This is the film I’ve been dreaming about: brutally intense and wildly original. It’s astonishing how Nolan crafts such a complex idea in a cohesive way. Don’t expect it to let up until the credits, but do expect to debate its meaning for hours. You’ll start to question your grasp on reality…or at least try to remember the content of your next dream.
This is the same sense of wonder I experienced watching “The Matrix” in 1999: unsure what to expect but interested, followed by an unreal world of possibilities with a new set of terms to learn and follow for two and a half hours. An epic story crafted with grand precision, “Inception” is as audacious as most indie films with the finesse of a big budget.
Like P.T. Anderson’s “Magnolia” and Darren Aronosky’s “The Fountain”, Nolan has created an end-all epic that defines his career—an epic of the dreamscape without the Mad Hatter and his gang of acid-trip goons. This is what happens when memories collide in a way that only dreams can. No need to depict nightmares where Freddy and Pinhead chase you or you find yourself naked in front of an audience. “Inception” cares more about how we perceive our natural surroundings and absorb past events in new ways.
Following such successes as “The Dark Knight”, “Memento” and “The Prestige”, “Inception” proves Christopher Nolan a director not to underestimate. I want to make outrageous claims like “This is his Mona Lisa” or “Filmmaking will never be this good again” but then I remember that I already underestimated him by assuming he peaked with “The Dark Knight”. I will instead simply wait in anticipation for his next project (most likely the third Batman film in his reboot of the franchise), knowing that its director is on a hot streak with no signs of digressing to mediocrity.
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