Tuesday, February 8, 2011



Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

When one falls asleep, there is a general expectation that your subconscious secrets are kept safe until you let them out. Writer-director Christopher Nolan obliterates this sense of security in Inception, where a band of thieves-for-hire not only can invade your dreams to steal your secrets, but implant ideas as well. Led by Cobb (DiCaprio), the team includes Arthur (Gordon-Levitt), Cobb's right hand man who keeps the team grounded, Ariadne (Page), the architect of the dream, Eames (Tom Hardy), a forger who can appear as different people in the person's dream in order to extract information or move the subject along, and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the chemist who sedates and watches over them. Cobb has been on the run and unable to return to his children in the United States since being accused of the death of his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) but when Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires the team to implant an idea into the head of the son of his business rival, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), Cobb sees his chance to go home, regardless of the danger it puts his team in.

I loved this film for a lot of reasons, one of them being some really fine performances by a great cast. DiCaprio has shown that he can handle some really meaty material, and he really nails it in his portrayal as the extremely complicated Cobb. Also notable was Cotillard, playing Cobb's wife. With a simple look, she could swing from extremely sinister to pitiable in a second. I'm singling these two out, but all of the performances were truly outstanding, and it was nice to see some good character actors get some screen time in such a blockbuster film.

Inception is brilliantly and expertly directed by Nolan, who is no stranger to creating thought-provoking films, like the mend-bending Memento or his twisty debut, Following. With Inception, he creates an epic experience: it's an action-packed thriller, but it's also incredibly cerebral. It's also highly stylized and really nice to look at, with amazing special effects and enough gorgeous slow motion shots to put John Woo to shame.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Inception is one of the things I most loved about it - its intelligence. I love cerebral films that encourage conceptual thought and require you to come to some of your own conclusions, but there is a fine line between being effortlessly intelligent and not only forcing the material down one's throat but then saying, "look how clever I am." I didn't exactly feel like I was being force fed during Inception, but intellectual revelations were not always natural. Coupled with some heavy-handed moments, the result was a slightly smug undertone at times.

These criticisms aside, I consider Inception to be a remarkable film that was truly exceptionally well done, if not completely accessible. Above all, I loved that a film this intricate could also be so gorgeous to look at and at times, be seriously kick-ass action packed.

4 out of 5 stars

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