When it comes to thriller / science fiction /action films that try and make you think, not many pull it off smoothly. You can easily turn off your audience by making things too confusing to remember, or leave some questions unanswered (think the TV show Lost).
The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan decided to up the anti and set out to achieve a mind-blowing mind fuck that is, Inception.
This movie is very hard to explain, so I’ll try and keep it simple. We’re thrown into the deep end, where our mysterious dream expert Dominic Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is discovered washed upon the sandy beach, with only a gun. He is taken to a glorified beach side mansion where he is fed a porridge-like substance while talking to some mysterious old guy. We are then sent to a different scenario, but in the same room, with Cobb and his sidekick Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, negotiating with Saito, played by Ken Watanbe, to obtain some secret documents. After negotiating has failed, Cobb and Arthur search the mansion for the safe with documents, but Cobb is interrupted by Mallorie, a conscious version of Cobb’s deceased wife, played by Marion Cotillard. While all this is happening, the scene cuts to a different room, where a sleeping Cobb, Saito, and Arthur, are patched into each other, being monitored by Nash, who is the architect / designer of the dreams, played by Lukas Naas. What we’re watching earlier is a dream inside Saito. Back into the dream, Cobb obtains the documents, but is ‘woken up’ by his team members in the other room. In this reality, we discover that not all as it seems, where Cobb was actually being trialled for a mission, which Saito set up. But then, Saito realises that the room they’re in is actually Nash’s dream. When this dream is over, we cut to Cobb, Saito, Arthur and Nash, on a train, which as far as we know, is the real reality. A dream, within a dream.
Saito approaches Cobb further down the track, to employ him for ‘inception’ – the ability to plant a world inside someone else’s dream, and tricking their conscious to reveal that person’s secrets. Like hypnotism, but you’re not hypnotised – you’re in a state of sleep, while someone patches in via a machine. Saito kidnaps Nash the Architect to force him to take the work, but after a refusal, Nash is taken away. However, Cobb is eventually convinced to do the job, but seeks from his father-in-law – played by Michael Caine, a new Architect. He is then introduced to Ariadne, played by Ellen Page, a college student with skills in architecture and design. From there, training, the mission, and confusion all unfold.
There’s more to it, but the more I explain, the more confusing it’ll be. The mind-blowing effects are amazing, with some revolutionary designs and concepts that put The Matrix to shame. This highly original concept and soundtrack makes a refreshing look at Hollywood blockbusters. Christopher Nolan has to be labelled an extraordinary genius, if The Dark Knight hasn’t set that benchmark already. A terrific cast and impressive performances by DiCaprio, Gordon-Levitt and Page, if you try and follow the movie for every layer that is in there, you’re going to leave with a headache, like I did. It’s a movie that you may have to watch more than once.
The best way I can sum it up is:
The Matrix + The Bourne Series + Nightmare On Elm Street (minus the horror and murder) = Inception.
This film is a definite must-see, but note its 2 hour and 30 minute run time. Go to the bathroom beforehand.