Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception - Theatrical Review

Screened at the Regal Irvine Spectrum 21  in IMAX.

Release Date: July 16, 2010
Amazing, stupendous, unforgettable, genius...those are just a few of the words that sprang to mind after seeing Christopher Nolan's newest masterpiece, Inception. It has been a long time since I have seen something so original not just in its ideas, but its execution as well. It takes the weighty subject matter of dreams and how they work and turns that into a summer action film of the highest degree. Oh but don't be fooled by that though, there is plenty of real drama to be found here as well and it is a credit to Christopher Nolan that he took such a radical idea, turned it on its head, flipped it around, set it upright and finally shook it up into some kind of celluloid (or digital nowadays I guess) miracle.

We are introduced to our characters in the middle of a con being performed within a dream state. This scene is set up to provide the rules for which the rest of the film will rely on and break throughout the rest of the film. The con is to steal valuable information from a man named Saito (Ken Watanabe, Last Samurai) from his subconscious as he is fast asleep. He is unaware that he is in a dream world and perceives everything he sees as reality which is a dangerous prospect for someone guarding such secrets as he does, anyone can invade his dream and attempt to take advantage of that which is where Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 500 Days of Summer), two professional and criminal dream "Extractors"come into play.

 DiCaprio & Levitt getting ready to invade someones dream

They have been hired by a rival business to acquire information from Saito and as they attempt to do so they run into a few roadblocks along the way that eventually have them in the service of the man they were to steal from. At this point the film turns into a sort of caper or crime thriller with both Cobb and Arthur having to form a team to pull off an impossible final job. Why does Cobb allow himself to be a puppet for this man who is clearly using him for his own benefits? Well, he has been unable to return home and see his children for what seems like years (although the film is a little unclear on that aspect) because he is wanted for the murder of his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies) and Saito holds the golden ticket to get him home again.

Although he has let the memory of his dead wife haunt him (she appears in every dream he jumps into and for the most part isn't much of a team player) he never lets his partner know what really happened to her and how much it is affecting him. The first person to breakthrough to him is the new recruit to the team, Ariadne (Ellen Page, Hard Candy) who was brought in to replace their previous "Architect". She immediately sees how much of a threat this presents to the team and confronts him about it to help prevent putting everyone in needless danger. As for the rest of the team each member has a specific role to play in the con, the architect is the person that creates the structure of the dream so that the person who's dream is being invaded doesn't realize what is happening. Then you have the "Forger", Eames (Tom Hardy, RocknRolla) who's job it is to take a familiar person from the targets life and mimic them in the dream to help gain some emotional control. Finally you have the "Chemist", Yusuf (Dileep Rao, Drag Me to Hell) who is the person responsible for the cocktails that keep everyone in a controlled sedated state during the dream.

 Meet the dream team

Once the team is together things begin to move quickly and before you know it they reach their objective and enter into the dream of a man named Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, Sunshine). It is at this point in the film when it goes from being a very good con/caper movie and transforms into a cinematic spectacle that continues to one up itself every other minute. This final sequence of the film lasts literally for an hour of the films entire run-time and I was in complete awe for every second of it. One of the many amazing ideas presented here (and earlier in the film as well) is stacking dreams on top of one another by having people dream while already dreaming. If that sounds familiar to you and wanna say "big deal, even Nightmare on Elm Street did that", well how about having the people go into a third dream, and then a fourth dream?

The concept introduced here is how time is relative to what level of dream state they are in such as 2 days equates to the first dream, 6 months equates to the second dream, 1 year for the third dream, and so on. Basically, the deeper they go into the subconscious the slower time moves for them and Nolan continuously is switching between each level of the dream showing what is happening at all times in that realities time frame. The way this is handled in the film is nothing short of a miracle that not only do you understand it but that it is all being conveyed to you during some of the most amazing feats of film making I have ever seen. I truly believe that the entire fight scene in the hotel is probably one of the best staged fight sequences ever put to film and when it finishes you will most likely be out of breath.

 Ellen Page spotting for DiCaprio

Now, are there any problems with the film? Of course there are, but it almost seems like nitpicking they are so small. There is a small foot chase in one of the rare scenes in the "real world" that could have easily been trimmed out since it never really amounted to anything other than to give the audience a little action in the middle of a bunch of dialog heavy scenes. There is a misstep by one of the team members early on in their big con that seemed really inconsistent with how spot on they all were about everything else that if it had been caught ahead of time the job would have gone much smoother for everyone involved. But honestly that is it, everything else was glorious from beginning to end (oh and what an ending it is).

So I would have to give this my highest recommendation, I cannot see anyone disliking the film. Perhaps not being able to keep up with it, but not flat out hating it. Even then, I think even the most jaded people would at the very least get some thrills from the excellent action sequences throughout the movie. Go see it immediately and jump back in line and see it a second time.



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