Friday, July 16, 2010
INCEPTION / ****
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 16, 2010
Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Running Time: 148 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Is there any doubt that Christopher Nolan is the most ingenious and exciting director working today? After his timeline-bending breakthrough “Memento,” the engrossing “Insomnia,” the atmospheric “The Prestige,” and his reinvention of the Batman franchise with “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” Nolan has a resume that any director would envy.
Now Nolan presents “Inception,” the highly anticipated follow-up to the third highest grossing film of all-time. The plot has been shrouded in secrecy, and with good reason. To try and explain the plot will result in the necessity to go into great detail, and without seeing the movie these details would be hard to comprehend. Even having seen the movie the details are hard to comprehend. Nolan has found a way to combine breathtaking action sequences and visual effects with a complex, arresting story.
I will do my best to explain what I can, without giving away too much. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, a man who specializes in a very unique kind of theft. He’s what’s known as an Extractor, someone who invades a person’s subconscious via their dreams and steals their ideas. If this sounds a little confusing, well, it is. But one of the great joys in Nolan’s screenplay is that it takes the time to explain every detail about how the process works.
There’s a deeper level of Extracting that’s called Inception, which involves going into someone’s subconscious and planting an idea there so well that the person will wake up convinced it was their idea. They have to go three levels deep to get there – a dream within a dream within a dream. Many claim this is impossible, but Cobb knows he can do it. How does he know? That I won’t reveal.
A rich businessman named Saito (Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe) wants Cobb to perform Inception on his chief business rival Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy). Saito promises that if Cobb can successfully complete this task, he will make it possible for him to “go home.” Details of “home” for Cobb reveal themselves slowly throughout the film, so once again, I won’t reveal them here.
From here Cobb assembles a team to work with. There’s right-hand man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); the Architect Ariadne (Oscar nominee Ellen Page); master of deception Eames (Tom Hardy); the Chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and Saito himself, who insists on joining him.
What makes “Inception” profoundly engaging is how the screenplay piles layers on top of layers, mimicking the dream layers that the characters are going through. Since Cobb is the one most involved with the target’s dream, his own subconscious, tortured by the loss of his wife Mal (Oscar winner Marion Cotillard), often collides with the target’s dreams. Cobb hides his pain from everyone except Ariadne, who gains unprecedented access to his psyche.
The film delves deeply into the possibilities of the human mind, which are literally endless. The way dreams are visualized and timelines are explored are absolutely brain melting in the best possible way. The performances are absolutely perfect across the board; Cotillard handles the most emotionally complex part with astonishing confidence and grace. DiCaprio and Page make a terrific team, while Watanabe, Hardy, Gordon-Levitt, Rao, Murphy, Tom Berenger and Michael Caine are perfectly cast.
However, I think Christopher Nolan is the true star of this movie. It’s absolutely time that he starts to enter the conversation as one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. “Inception” defies all expectations, and should nab several Oscar nominations. This is one of the best films of the year.
Theater: Rave Motion Pictures Festival Plaza 16, Montgomery, AL
Time: 1201 am
Date: July 15, 2010 (quality check)
Theater: Carmike Horizon Cinema 10, Traverse City, MI
Time: 1010 pm
Date: July 22, 2010