Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout.
Inception was a mind-bending, tense thriller that had a couple of flaws, but was mostly an entertaining ride.
At some point in the future, we will have the ability to enter people's dreams. Cobb has become the master of this, and is hired to steal the thoughts that people keep buried in their minds. But he has a sordid past, including the death of his wife - which may or may not be his fault. He is offered a new job, one which, if he is successful, will allow him to finally return home to his children, free of all charges. The job isn't to retrieve something from someone's dream, but to plant a thought - inception. Planting a seed into someone's mind is the hardest thing to do because you never know how it will eventually turn out. Cobb, along with his team including Arthur, Ariadne, Eames and Yusuf must dig deeper into the psyche than they ever have before. But Cobb's past may come back to haunt him, and leave him in a place from which he can never return.
The hype for Inception has been off the charts, even more so when very few other movies this summer have left an impact. I kind of felt about Inception the same way I felt about The Matrix the first time I saw it. I was mesmerized by the visuals and storytelling, even if at times the story became so dense it didn't make sense. First off, the story was pretty good. The idea that we can enter other people's dreams and find their hidden secrets is a frightening one and they pulled it off pretty well. But what's funny is, that wasn't the plot of the movie. In the movie the idea was to plant a seed of an idea in a dream and see if that could turn into something more concrete in the real world. Now there's a concept that is fraught with danger. As they said in the movie, when you plant a seed you never know how it'll grow. So along with planting the seed, they have to try and trick it into growing they way they want. But there is also a parallel storyline that deals with Cobb and his deceased wife. And that story turned a little comical at the end of the movie.
The movie was a lot like an Ocean's Eleven in that you had a group of people get together to try and steal something from someone. There was a lot of planning involved, each member of the team had their own strength and weaknesses. And the mark, the person from whom they were trying to steal, has his own defenses. Everything had to be done perfectly in order for everyone to come out alive. And this is especially true when you have to try and induce someone into a dream state, when they're already IN a dream state. A dream within a dream. The deeper you go into someone's psyche, the harder it is to come out unscathed.
This movie couldn't have been possible, even with the talents of writer/director Christopher Nolan at the helm, without having some tremendous actors behind him. Leonardo DiCaprio once again shows why he's one of the best actors working today. No matter what role he's in, he loses himself in the character. He draws the audience in and never lets them go. Ellen Page was a good foil since she's the bright outsider that sees the world like the audience does. We learn the ins and outs, and ups and downs of the story through her eyes. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt has morphed into one of the most talented and underrated actors working today. See that poll question to the right? He's my choice for winning an Academy Award before the rest of them.
The special effects in the film were brilliant. We all saw the scene in the trailer where Cobb and Ariadne are sitting at a cafe while the world blows up around them. But there was so much more. There was a fight scene with Arthur that took place in zero gravity that was incredible to watch. All the effects were seamlessly interwoven into the film so that it didn't feel like a generic FX film, but a movie where these things could happen. The visuals were incredible, with only the snowy mountaintop feeling a little out of place. I'm not sure why that was chosen as the latter showcase when the rest of the movie was rich with color and detail. To end on a blanket of whiteness felt odd. But all in all, it was one of the best visual movies you'll see in a while.
All that being said, there were some flaws in the movie. I didn't like how they would set something up, only to have someone a few minutes later contradict it. For instance, early on in the movie we're told that if you die while in a dream, it wakes you up. If you feel pain in the dream it'll affect your awaken state, but dying simply brings you back. That's fine. But then a few minutes later we're told that if you die while in a highly sedated state, you don't wake up but you enter limbo where time has virtually no meaning. You could be trapped in a dream state for decades and when you eventually wake up, your mind could have turned into jelly. Why set up one thing when you're going to tear it down the next minute? I also thought that Ariadne's character, while understanding we learn through her, got too close to Cobb too quickly. Almost immediately she was able to figure out what was wrong with him, while his team, especially Arthur, had no idea what was going on. Cobb and Arthur had been together for a long time, but Ariadne shows up and figures everything out in a few seconds.
**Spoiler Alert - Skip to the Bottom Line**
I also didn't like the story of Cobb's wife. At the beginning it was interesting and let us understand his motivation more. But as the movie went on, you knew that she was going to turn up at the most inopportune time and when she did reveal herself, I groaned. For a well-written movie, it was the most obvious thing that could have happened. And I think the rest of the audience felt that way too because you knew the exact moment she would appear and it kind of took away from the momentum the movie had been building up at that point. The movie, as it turns out, wasn't about entering dreams or planting ideas. It was about Cobb having to deal with the death of his wife and realizing that he caused it. And with everything else going on in the movie, that left me feeling a little flat. I did however enjoy the final shot of the film which leaves you wondering even more what is real, and what is a dream.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I really enjoyed Inception. It didn't (and probably really couldn't) live up to the massive hype, but it was definitely one of the best films of the year so far. Anytime you play a movie over and over in your mind, you've seen something worthwhile.