This is the movie that everyone has been waiting to see this year. After Christopher Nolan did The Dark Knight a couple years ago everyone has been waiting with baited breathe for the next film in the Batman trilogy, however Nolan decided – just as he did with the previous Batman instalment – to take a break away from the world of comic books and bring us into this new original science-fiction heist film that he’s apparently been working on from birth (or something like that). This movie takes the heist genre and decides to bring it into the world of the dream. In the art of espionage the effectiveness of an agent is measured by how reliable the information is that’s at his fingertips, well how much more reliable can you get when you’re stealing the information directly from the subject’s subconscious while he’s sleeping. This is the world that we’re thrust into in the film Inception.
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) must assemble a team of thieves and other skilled misfits to complete this last job that will get him what he’s been fighting for a long time to get; a chance to return to his family. This job requires him to plant an idea in the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) – the heir to the biggest energy competitor to the client, Saito (Ken Watanabe) – that will make him dissolve his father’s empire. In order for them to complete this mission they must achieve the disastrously dangerous feat of ‘great depth’ which is a three layered dream – i.e. a dream within a dream within a dream – as they try to fool Fischer into believing this idea came from him.
This movie works on so many levels that it’s impossible not to love. The grandness of the idea and how the dream world is executed is how this film separates it from the rest of those dream sequences you’ve seen before. When you think of standout dream scenes in film you’re always treated to absurd scenes where the filmmaker is always pointing out how ridiculous the world is. Here however, Nolan decides to create worlds that are impossible but at the same time modelled off the real world so that he can trick us – and the mark – into believing that it’s real, which makes it even more amazing when we end up experiencing unrealistic things in this seemingly real world.
Nolan quickly introduces us to the idea of ‘shared dreaming’ where a dreamer creates a world and allows another person to enter it and bring in their secrets. Unlike most filmmakers which have to do what I call narrated storytelling, where they have to narrate the entire introduction by telling us exactly what is going on as we are watching it, he trusts us to figure out that this world that we’re in initially is a dream and that Cobb and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are on a job to steal a mark’s secrets. We, as the audience, are then lead to build a list of rules on our own as we progress through the film which makes for a very thought provoking experience that you won’t want to end.
One complaint that I’ve heard from some people is that they didn’t like how the film decided to change a lot of the rules that they introduced early in the film. For example, early in the film we learn that when you’re killed in the dream world you wake up in the real world, but in the job there becomes this huge consequence for dying. Why I loved this was even though that it technically was cheating on the filmmaker’s part that it allows for this job to become even more high risk and tense for our thieves. If you can’t be caught then the act of the heist becomes more video game like and we can just press the reset button whenever we please. This is probably the only element of the story that allows itself to tailor its very unique concept into an already chiselled genre of bank (or in this case mind) heists.
What this movie does well though is that it gives us this grand world that we’ve never seen represented in this fashion on screen before. Where instead of having a head filled with random thoughts and ideas represented as a dream we’re having people actively creating real representations of worlds into mazes. I actually lost sight of how important the maze aspect of the film was, because I forgot about how the projections work as the mark’s defense mechanism and how Cobb and his team utilized the maze as the blueprint for the world that they allow the subject to enter so to give them as much time as possible to complete any given job.
People all like to bicker about the ending of the film and whether it was a dream or not. Earlier this year I reviewed DiCaprio’s other movie Shutter Island and applauded it for its distinct clear ending. Here however, is the complete opposite. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and even though most try to use evidence from the film to base their decision on whether the end is one thing or another the truth of the matter is that unless I watch the film a few more times I won’t know for sure, but I know what I want it to be and that’s what it’ll be until I prove it further. A film like this can’t become a load of garbage because the filmmaker decided to make me think about it at the very last minute. What I got from is that the journey of the beginning to the end is way more important than what the actual end was. It’s a film that you’re going to want to see numerous times and spend hours dissecting all the aspects of its brilliance.
IMDB says 9.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes says 87%
I say 10/10