Inception, with its ground breaking special effects and amazing storyline that plays with your notions of dreams and reality, is the Matrix of 2010. Dont wait to see Inception online for free.
The very idea of our dreams, and how one can affect them, can be an incredibly hard concept to grasp because its potentially endless. But in Inception, star writer and director Christopher Nolan masterfully explores this idea and makes it understandable for mass audiences. Ill say right now, as innovative and complex as Nolans previous films Memento, Batman Returns and The Dark Night were, nothing prepared us for what he delivers here.
On the surface Inception is a heist caper set sometime in the near future. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, the leader of an innovative group of high-tech corporate thieves. Hired by nefarious businessmen, Cobbs group enters the dreams of some of the biggest names of industry to steal, or extract, classified information and trade secrets. They then sell this information to the competitors that hired them.
The audience firsts meet Cobb in the immediate aftermath of a bungled assignment to extract information from Japanese energy mogul Saito (played by Ken Watanabe). Saito has a brilliant business mind, and immediately sees an opportunity to turn this around in his favor. He makes Cobb an offer. Invade the dreams of rival new age industrialist Robert Fischer Jr (played by Cillian Murphy). But instead of stealing information, Saito wants Cobbs people to plant thoughts into Murphys dream, which will then be absorbed into his subconscious. Murphy will then treat this foreign thought as his own, and Saito can use it against him.
This whole planting dreams idea is know as inception, and most experts believe it to be impossible, much like a hypnotist not being able to make a good person kill someone. But Cobb knows that it is possible because he has successfully done it in the past.
Cobb wants no part of this, but Saito makes a surprising offer. In exchange for taking this assignment, Saito will arrange a homecoming for Cobb so that he may once again see his kids. This is where the viewer first learns of some shady incident in Cobbs past involving his wife Mal (played by Marion Cotillard). We dont see Marion unless shes haunting his dreams, but something happened that forced Cobb to flee the United States without his young kids. We dont immediately learn the nature of his infractions, but he has been unable to reenter because of what would happen if he did. Now Saito is promising to get all past sins forgiven if Cobb just does this last job for him.
Given how much he misses his kids, Cobb accepts the offer. He assembles a new crew which includes frequent compatriot Arthur (played by Joseph-Gordon Levitt), dream architect Ariadne (played by Ellen Page), Eames (played by Tom Hardy), who can impersonate anyone in a dream, and Yusef (played by Dileep Rao); a chemist whose narcotics can keep sleepers sedated or bring them back to consciousness.
The remainder of the film deals with Cobb and his people preparing for and executing this assignment. There is a prolonged sequence where the dream architect Ariadne undergoes her training. Director Nolan cleverly uses this sequence as a sort of tutorial for the audience.
The special effects in Inception are groundbreaking and spectacular. Try to remember how you felt when you first watched Terminator 2 or The Matrix. The wow factor is on that level. But the special effects serve the story. There is a point to everything. When we see cities where streets defy gravity by arching overhead and massive cliffs that collapse into the sea, its to illustrate how dreams distort the commonplace into something that defies the natural laws.
Even with the eye-popping special effects, one of the most thrilling scenes looks like a throwback to an earlier time in Hollywood. In a straightforward action scene, a Matrix-like gravity-free hand-to-hand combat sequence appears to be devoid of all CGI. This looks like the director used the same rotating room trick that was first seen in the old Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling movie Royal Wedding (from 1951!). This scene could not look any better.
The movies ends with an astounding 60 minute climax that builds using a massive, carefully choreographed sequence of escalating suspense.
Inception is a storytelling marvel and an incredible technical achievement.