The fact that an “involuntary” thought can manipulate our emotions and interactions even when we realize the entire conflict was a product of our imagination is a testament to the power of dreams.
It is within that world that writer/director Christopher Nolan wants to explore with us with his latest film, “Inception.”
For many a film geek, “Inception” is the most anticipated film of the summer. Nolan, the co-writer/director of such smaller psychological films as “Memento,” and “The Prestige,” has also established himself as an unlikely hero of the big-budget action as well with his rejuvenation of the Batman franchise, “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.”
“Inception” represents a marriage of the two – a brain-tickling blockbuster.
But the key to your enjoyment of “Inception” is knowing as little about it going in, so I will offer two reviews of the film for both sets of audiences : those who have yet to view, and those who have.
Review for those who are considering “Inception.”
Leonoardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a man who can enter and manipulate dreams. The movie is excellent. Go see it now. The end. Do not read further. You have been warned.
Review for those have seen “Inception.”
Nolan has once again managed to elevate our expectations in what film can do. For here we sit, in the middle of what could be argued as one of the more disappointing summers of film in a long while (with countless remakes, sequels and clones), and presents us with a cinematic vision that has yet to be seen, and has done so on a grand scale to rival any of the pre-sold summer slam dunks.
It is a film in which a viewer can take out what he or she cares to put in it. If you want to enjoy it on a purely visceral, action-heavy level, you will exit satisfied. For there are enough chair-rattling booms and narrow-escape setups to satisfy that escapist summer film craving. It is, in essence, a heist film.
But if you care to pick and peel at this onion, there is just as much beneath its many layers. For this heist takes place inside the mind. And whose mind they are actually performing the heist is up to individual interpretation.
Leo’s Cobb is an expert at infiltrating dreams and extracting secrets. To do this, he assembles a team that includes a point man (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a shape-shifting counterfeiter (played by Tom Hardy) and an architect (played by Ellen Page) to construct the dream’s landscape.
Dom has been tasked with an assignment that, if completed successfully, will allow him to leave the business and reunite him with his children. But instead of taking information, he must “implant” it, a process known as “inception.”
All very simple, so far, right? But just like Nolan’s jigsaw-puzzle-like “Memento,” even when you fit things together, the full picture is cryptically fuzzy. For the film operates in the construct of dreams and all their maddeningly shifting rules and logic.
It can all lead to different interpretations, and be mindful of those who saw the film once and definitively declare that they “got it.” Nolan is much too detailed a filmmaker for that. And when that final scene fades to black, you are left on your own to decide, but the post-viewing discussion and conjecture can be just as exciting as the film itself. I have only viewed the film once at a midnight screening and have plans for a second IMAX showing later in the week to soak in all that is offered.
Technically, the film is filled with all the ornate imagery, superb casting, intricate set design and finely supplemented score that one now expects from the director. With “Inception” he adds to that his Batman-honed action choreography as well as some revolutionary special effects shots.
In fact, the single most amazing thing about “Inception” is that it exists at all – a $160 million film filled with mind tricks that is released (and embraced, making $60 million in its opening weekend) smack-dab in the middle of summer movie mindlessness.
But just like the world of hallucinogenic world it inhabits, “Inception” is a work that in open to different interpretations, understandings and resolutions. Just like the dream that can affect and alter your mood the morning after, “Inception” is a film that is hard to let go when the credits roll.
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