It’s been awhile since I did a movie review, and since I just saw Inception and am pretty sure I kept up with it, I thought I’d take a crack at a review. I will admit that I approach it with some trepidation. Once I begin to replay the movie in my head, and reviewing its many-layered concepts, my brain might suffer a blowout. I’ve been telling people that while watching the movie I felt like the plot was a dangling rope trailing behind as it rocketed along, with me managing to hold on to the very tip of the rope but threatened with losing my grip of comprehension at any moment. I stick by the analogy.
Director Christopher Nolan’s last movie was a small, low-budget affair you may have heard about called The Dark Knight, but before he became the latest Batman overseer, he was the co-writer/director of a 2000 movie called Memento. That movie, with its backward-in-time plot device, was a trendsetter in mind-bendy entertainment. If you haven’t seen Memento, I recommend adding it to your Netflix queue. With Inception, Nolan (who again both wrote and directed) returns to a story that challenges the viewer to pay attention. If you don’t, you may find yourself wondering what the heck is going on.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a sort of “mind burglar” who makes his living by going into people’s dreams in order to steal information from their subconscious. Corporate honchos are his typical clients, and in the wake of a failed mission, his target subject turns the tables on Cobb, making him an offer he can’t refuse. The honcho, Saito (Ken Watanabe), wants Cobb to perform the exact reverse of what he is usually hired to do. Instead of extracting information from the subject – in this case, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the son of a rival energy mega-business magnate – Saito wants an idea planted into his head, an idea that would alter the course of his rival’s business and subsequently clear the way for Saito’s company to dominate the energy world.
Cobb is a wanted man in the United States, with no hope of returning. The carrot that Saito dangles in front of him is a guarantee, after one phone call from Saito, of clearance for him to re-enter the U.S., and a reunion with the two children Cobb was forced to abandon. With that prospect, Cobb agrees to enter Fischer’s dreams, and he begins putting his team together. Saito himself insists on joining them, and before long the stage is set for them to sedate Fischer – a necessary step in the process – and enter his mind in order to plant Saito’s idea in his noggin.
The hardest part about the mission is that the group will need to enter three levels of dreams, an unheard-of achievement that will require very heavy sedation of Fischer and the team members to ensure the necessary sleep duration. This results in additional complications. During a typical mission, if one of the team is killed while in a dream (in the world of corporate espionage, the dream world can be a violent one), the actual person in the real world simply wakes up. But if one of the team is killed while in the extra-heavily-sedated Fischer’s dream, that person will enter a coma and be in limbo for who knows how long … possibly the rest of his or her life.
There’s another risk, one that most of the team doesn’t know about. Cobb is tormented by memories of his wife, and she has been known to turn up during his dream missions. Her appearances de-rail Cobb’s concentration, and they can lead to disastrous consequences. So as the team enters Fischer’s mind, they’re facing double jeopardy, even though not all of them know it.
Suffice it to say the mission is not a cake walk. There’s much fighting, gunfire and danger. What was great was the way everything fit together in Inception. Nothing happens without a reason. Once the characters begin entering dreams within dreams, things get really funky. For example, at one point, Cobb’s right-hand man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt), remains behind in one dream while the rest of the team goes on to another dream. Because events occurring in one dream can affect the environment of another dream, Arthur soon finds himself fighting a man in a hotel hallway that is turning end over end when, in another dream, a van containing all the team members is rolling.
I’m not going to explain any more in detail because doing so would kill some of your fun. You can probably tell by now whether or not Inception is your cup of tea. It definitely is a movie that demands your full attention. Once you’re in the theater, try not to leave to go get popcorn. You could miss something important. It is also a movie that’s ripe for discussion afterward, to see if you and your friends or family who have also seen the movie came to the same conclusions. For one thing, opinions vary over exactly what happened at the end. I know what I think. Now you go see it, and see what you think.