Friday, 20 May 2011

Inception Review

Inception is an intelligent, thought-provoking science fiction film directed by Christopher Nolan.  It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, a skilled extraction agent - with the extractions being of secrets kept in people's brains, taken out while they're dreaming.  With the aid of an environment created by an "architect", Cobb attempts to get the information while retaining the illusion that the subject is in a real life situation.  If something more complicated is needed, then different "levels" - dreams within dreams - may be needed; the higher the level of complexity, the more difficult it is to maintain the pretence.

I don't want to delve into the plot too much here as it's necessary to concentrate on this film and pick up what's going on as you go along (admittedly after talking to a number of people, a significant number have had trouble following the plot), but basically Cobb has to achieve the most difficult type of infiltration - called "Inception", not just retrieving information but actually planting a new idea in someone's head without them realising.  This will require a stunningly complex, multi-layer dream environment - necessitating the hiring of wonderkid Ariadne (Ellen Page).  Her need to understand Cobb better leads her into the dark recesses of her mind, which creates an extra undercurrent of tension between them - the rest of the team becoming ever so slightly miffed when it turns out that he may just have trapped them in someone else's dream for all eternity.  Time moves differently in dreams - so dream world is slower than real life, and each layer is exponentially slower than the layer before; thus by the sixth level, a year of dream time could pass in just seconds in the real world.  That's an important thing to remember - the plot probably ceases to make any sense if you forget that while watching.

Anyway, about the film - I absolutely loved it.  The tension and atmosphere are very reminiscent of Bladerunner, the theme of our perception of reality is well handled, and the mind-bending science comes across believably enough for viewers to suspend their belief sufficiently.  DiCaprio is suitably intense in the lead role while Page and a stellar supporting cast including Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Lovett, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite in one of his last ever roles, Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard were all superb.  The characters, their backgrounds, and in particular the relationships between the different characters were intriguing, and complemented and already involving plot.  

Christopher Nolan's direction never skips a beat, keeping the tension racked up to almost unbearable levels much of the time, but cleverly using humour to give viewers a breather just when they need it.  The action and drama are blended perfectly, and while the "is it or isn't it?" ending was perhaps inevitable; though I don't often like this sort of inconclusive ending to a film, in this instance it's perhaps the only one that could ring true.  Nolan also wrote the excellent screenplay.  Add to this a brilliantly atmospheric music score composed by industry legend Hans Zimmer and you have an almost perfect movie.  Oh, and the effects are impressive too (just in case you thought there might be a fly in the ointment somewhere).  

Sorry to over-use superlatives, but Inception really is a great sci-fi movie.  Among other awards it won 4 Oscars and was nominated for 4 more, though strangely none of the cast members got an Oscar nod.  At any rate, if you enjoy science fiction movies and aren't put off by having to concentrate on a movie to keep pace with what's going on, Inception is most definitely a film you should watch.  In fact the only criticism of the film I have is the timing of its cinema release - coming out so near the time my wife was expecting our baby meant I had to wait for it to come out on DVD!  I mean, they could have at least consulted with me first... :-D

Runtime: 148 minutes
Rating: 12A (UK), PG-13 (USA) 

See also:  My Top Ten Science Fiction Films of All Time

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1 comment:

Bryon said...

Of all of the movies I saw in the last year none of them were as epic as Inception. The idea of the movie to plant an idea in someone’s mind is certainly insidious but the planning that was done to make it conceivable in the real world was certainly commendable. I’m looking forward to watching “Inception” on HBO this Saturday at 8 PM when it airs. I’ll be out of town for a convention, but I can catch it on my iPhone because of my free DISH Network Sling adapter that I got with a rebate. It’s sweet because I don’t’ miss my shows and if I set a DVR recording I can still watch it later anywhere I am.