Saturday, July 24, 2010


We've seen the commercials with cityscape curling up into itself for months - hinting that Christopher Nolan is preparing a mind bending adventure for movie audiences. Until recent weeks the previews were vague, only teasing us that Nolan had a few tricks up is sleeve. The secretive strategy was worth the effort as Inception is the kind of movie that dares it's audience to lose themselves in a world of imagination.

Inception now joins the ranks of Fight Club, the first Matrix, and Nolan's own Memento as films to toy with your psyche. The brain boggling story telling is done with surgical precision. While there are flaws in the story those errors are inconsequential as Inception is easily one of the best movies I've seen in years and the kind of movie that reminds us of the magical allure that the theater experience once held.

The story opens up the opportunity to experience shared dreams, and for thieves to enact elaborate heists to steal information from the minds of other people inside the dreamscape. If this was the only psychological aspect of the movie, we'd be left with an unoriginal and wholly disappointing two and a half hours of film. Instead, Nolan weaves in the notion that shared dreams are commonplace and widely accepted as normal by the characters involved. He even gives the act of stealing intellectual property through dreams a name: extraction. The plot device that drives the real story (and lends the movie its name) is the possibility that ideas can be planted into the deepest recesses of a person's subconscious where the subject views the planted idea as one of their own design - an feat called inception.

The protagonist, Dominic Cobb (DiCaprio), is the brains behind the operation. Along for the ride is his sidekick Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) whose primary job is to research Cobb's targets. The pair needs a new architect - a person who designs and builds the world experienced by dreamers. Dominic once was able to be an architect but now refuses to build dream worlds for reasons explained in the film. They hire and train a new architect (Ellen Page of Juno fame) to help work one final job given to them by a former target (Ken Watanabe).

The mission is plagued with complications of unexpected subconscious projections (including Cobb's dead wife), layers of unreal realms, and warped physics that defy every ounce of gravity we've come to enjoy in the real world.

The character work is portrayed with brilliance, the scenery is beautifully rendered, Nolan provides expert direction that exceeds either of his two Batman projects, and the action is both captivating and bewildering. The fight sequence with manipulated gravitational pulls is one of the greatest action scenes in the past 10 years of cinema.

Inception is two and a half hours of suspense. It is filled with mind blowing surrealism and jaw dropping special effects. This movie about dreams invites us to dream with with the characters on screen. Once the final credits begin to roll your mind will continue to ponder not only the psychological elements of the story, but also the unknown fate hinted in the final frame of film.

This is the single most satisfying film of the year. If Inception does not garner at least one Oscar, I will be surprised. This is the kind of movie more film makers should strive to create.

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