Top positive review
Non, je ne regrette rien...
on January 11, 2015
Christopher Nolan may be the most brilliant, unconventional mainstream director working in Hollywood today, crafting intricate stories where narrative forms are stretched and twisted.
Nowhere is this more obvious than "Inception," which turns into a multi-level Möbius strip -- worlds within worlds, dreams within dreams. Nolan delights in being able to conjure strange worlds that could never exist in real life, but he crafts a very heartfelt, powerful story for those visuals -- a story of love and loss, ambition and power, and a broken man haunted by guilt that constantly chases him through every dream.
In the not-too-distant future (next Sunday A.D.), the military has created a technology that allows artificial shared dreaming. Within multi-leveled dreams, architects can create elaborate worlds, and special "extractors" can get information from a sleeping subject's brain. Oh, and there are several layers of dreaming, each with a different period of time passing.
The movie opens with Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) trying to extract some information from tycoon Saito (Ken Watanabe). It turns out that this was actually an elaborate audition by Saito, who wants to hire them for an "inception" -- to plant a new idea in someone's head. Cobb isn't interested until Saito offers to clear him of the murder of his wife, which would allow him to return to his young children.
Their target: Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), who has just inherited a massive energy conglomerate from his cold, callous father. Saito wants the company dissolved before it can become too powerful, so he wants the idea incepted into Robert's head.
So Cobb gets together a gang of the best: clever forger Eames (Tom Hardy), dream-chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and the new architect Ariadne (Ellen Page). But only Ariadne sees how troubled Cobb is, and that the memory of his dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) is deliberately sabotaging every mission he undertakes. As the team weaves their elaborate web of deception and dreams around Robert, Cobb finds that his demons are threatening their mission.
You have to give it to Christopher Nolan: he doesn't dumb down his movies for the masses. "Inception" is a hard movie to even summarize because it's constantly growing more complicated -- the team is spread out over different dream levels, with different time periods passing and different perils attacking them simultaneously. It's half heist caper and half sci-fi meta-thriller... if that even makes sense.
And while Nolan sculpts a strange Escheresque dream-world of labyrinths and never-ending stairs, he also crafts some powerful subplots about love and loss. As the plot unwinds, he intertwines Cobb and Fischer's personal issues with the main story of inception. Suddenly the constant firefights, explosions and free-falling elevators/vans aren't the only reason we're invested -- the audience is truly left wanting to see both men work out their issues and find some measure of inner peace.
It also has spectacularly good special effects, particularly Arthur's battle in the hotel -- he scampers across the walls and ceilings, grappling with projections as he floats through empty halls. Not to mention the scene where Ariadne turns a whole city upside-down... literally.
Honestly, the biggest problem with the movie is that the dreams sometimes make too much sense. Why do Fischer's projections have to actually TRAVEL to attack the team instead of... I don't know, materializing inside the building?
Nolan also populates "Inception" with a lot of actors that he's cast in other projects, especially "The Dark Knight Rises." In fact, I can't help but wonder if DiCaprio's role was originally offered to Christian Bale, because we've also got Cotillard, Hardy, Watanabe, Murphy, Gordon-Levitt and Michael Caine. There are actually only a couple major actors who haven't worked with Nolan elsewhere.
But this is one of DiCaprio's best roles, even if he's not very convincing as a father -- his Cobb is riddled with guilt and numb sorrow, and it's only prodding from Ariadne that finally gets him to confront his issues. All the other actors give lovely performances as well -- Cotillard is particularly wrenching as a strange shallow shade of a madwoman, as is Murphy as the downtrodden son of a powerful man.
"Inception" is the kind of movie that we desperately need more of -- a wild Möbius strip of complex ideas, brilliant direction and powerful acting. This is truly a one-of-a-kind film, and not one to be missed.