Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible, inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea, but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.Written by
Warner Bros. Pictures
Not all the hype suggests but still an enjoyable action thriller built on a good concept and encourages thought afterwards
The important thing to start out with is to distance yourself from the hype about this film because it will not help you when watching it, nor is any of it totally justified. It seems that any mainstream film (especially at summertime) that manages to at least do something different or clever will be hailed as a masterpiece simply because it is not Transformers 2. So watching it expecting to be amazed is probably the wrong state of mind to be in. Likewise it is probably not great to be expecting something impossible to follow, because again the film is very clearly constructed and even when action is occurring across several "levels" at once, I still found it easy to follow.
The film is a thriller and, like many great thrillers it is one that is built on an imaginative and clever concept. The world of dream infiltration is well constructed and is also well delivered to the audience; some people near me were muttering and asking confused questions throughout, but personally I found it easy to follow for the most part – and not because I'm smart but because the film does a good job of bringing the viewer into the ideas and concept. In terms of being an action movie, the second half of the film does pick this up well and the race against time across all of the dream levels, with the editing bringing it all together well so that you don't lose what is happening and indeed the movement of time and the importance of the relative events are clearly understood to produce tension. Although the dream worlds are a bit too "ordinary" at times (most of our dreams are filled with things that don't make any sense or have echoes of things, rather than detailed cityscapes and gun battles) there is creativity in the visual design and in particular a Matrix-esquire battle in a spinning corridor is thrilling to watch.
To its credit the stepping up of the action aspect does not mean that the ideas that got us here are abandoned because they are not. The importance of Cobb's subconscious and in particular his own gnawing guilt over the death of his wife initially appears to be just a way of having a repeatable "baddie" turning up in various places throughout the film, but actually she is well used to introduce doubt and alternative interpretations to the film. As everywhere else, the ending of the film was met with groans that there would not a confirmation of the ending. Personally I think that "was the real level actually a dream" is just an idea planted by the director to keep the audience from simply finishing the film and walking away from it and that the presented reality was actual reality. I can understand why some have disliked this because it could appear like Nolan is going "or was it?" without providing much more than the question, but I choose to see this as just another tease, which he is perfectly allowed to do since the whole film is about trying to get others to doubt their reality and change their own minds by themselves (although not really).
The cast deliver well. DiCaprio manages to produce an engaging character who emotionally makes sense and it is his performance that helps the deeper material in his subconscious work well and be more accessible to the viewer. Gordon-Levitt is memorable for his action scenes but he is also a good presence generally even if he has a lot less to do. Page provides the viewer with someone to "come in" with and she works that angle well. Hardy, Watanabe and Rao round out the team well. Some of the bigger names had the potential to be distractions by virtue of "oh look its x" but Caine, Berenger, Haas and Postlethwaite didn't really do that even if their actual screen times were minimal compared to the recognisability of their faces. Cotillard works very well to have her character vary across levels and contexts and I liked her better than I thought I would.
I'm not in agreement that Inception is a classic perfect film but it is a very good one. If anything the elevation of this film is more to do with how average and uninspiring the vast majority of films released are, but I suppose that the success of this one is a good thing in some ways to maybe counter that. The concept and ideas are well constructed and presented to the audience and the film itself is not hard to follow but does challenge the viewer to do the one thing that a blockbuster normally doesn't – pay attention. Doesn't quite live up to the hype but it is still a very good and engaging film.
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