Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inception Film Review

I wrote that sometimes when a director films his own screenplay, disasters may happen. Well, sometimes when a director films his own screenplay, masterpieces can be made. See Citizen Kane. (1941) That's because the director is not forced to compromise on his artistic vision for commercial reasons. Director-writer Christopher Nolan has demonstrated the skill, originality and creativity when it comes to filmmaking. He is fearless. Memento. (2000) Dark Knight. (2008) And now he has created another great film, in Inception.

Inception is the story of corporate spy, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who with technology can enter a person's dreams to steal secrets. Now stealing secrets in a mind is usually imagined as going to a safe and stealing its contents. At least that's what it looks like in the dream world. Businessman Saito (Ken Wantanabe) hires him to do something far more difficult. He must enter a mind of Saito's competitor and plant an idea. He wants Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to break up his father's empire by selling it off. That's the idea to plant. Think of planting an idea as kind of a Jedi Mind Trick. You know, where Obi Wan Kenobi controls the actions of a stormtropper. "These aren't the Droids you're looking for." The problem with planting an idea is that the "target" must think it's his own idea.

Along with Saito, Cobb forms his team. The team consists of Arthur (Joseph Gorden-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy), Yusef (Dileep Rao) and rookie Ariadne (Ellen Page). Their impossible mission is to go deep into Fischer's subconscious and plant the idea. Not only do that, Cobb decides to base the idea on a positive, cathartic emotion. What that all means is that the team goes into three layers of dreams to complete the mission. The advantage? The team is aware in each dream of their whereabouts, allowing them to somewhat manipulate the environment. The disadvantage? You must be in a dream state to access another mind. Unfortunately for Cobb, that means his memories of his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), who appears in missions.

There are some dream concepts in the film. The idea of falling and dying in dreams are featured. Nolan keeps the dream sequences grounded in reality. There are no gigantic white rabbits here. But expect an occasional freight train to crash the scene out of nowhere or see Ariadne bend half the city at a ninety degree angle. But keeping the dreams grounded in reality makes us question the reality of what we're seeing. Which is exactly what certain dreams feel like.

The actors who play Cobb's team give their characters a subtle confidence. Ellen Page is used for exposition but is so cute, that Nolan has an actor plant a kiss on her in a lighter moment. DiCaprio does an excellent job as a man who has secret buried within his own subconscious. As typical with Nolan, the actions pieces are well shot and done realistically. They feel as if there was an attempt to use as little CGI as possible. One of the dreams takes place at a well guarded mountain base. It feels real and also looks like a videogame at the same time. That makes it seem like a dream. It could be the lighting or the fact the scene just appears out of the second dream. If there is any weakness to this film, it is confusing. But it might require multiple viewings. I'm sure Warner who released this classic, is smiling about that.

Inception is an intelligent, exciting, thought provoking film. It will make you think about what is real and what isn't. It's not often you get this type of film released during the middle of summer. The grade is A+.

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