Christopher Nolan brings us an action thriller with so many twists and turns you might be forgiven for thinking that the walls in your own house are changing around you. We follow our protagonist, anti-hero Dominic Cobb who extracts secrets from people’s dreams.
Now he takes on his riskiest mission yet, to plant an idea into the mind of someone else. With his team comprised of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe and the mark played by Cillian Murphy, we’re thrust into the bewildering world where dreams exist within dreams and nothing is what it seems.
With an opening set piece that looks bigger and grander than any normal films climax; Nolan gives us a detailed yet confusing intro that has us asking tons and tons of questions. It’s a disorienting experience, which is exactly the point since it’s mimicking the experience of being within a dream. We follow Cobb teaching his new apprentice, Ariadne, how to construct a team, while his team prepare to pull off their biggest con yet by preparing their most risky job yet – implanting an idea into the mind of a wealthy young businessmen (played by Cilian Murphy) to agree to sell off his father’s business. This means they’ll have to dive deeper into the subconscious than they have ever gone before, all while being chased by the subconscious projection of Cobb’s ex-wife Mal.
Clocking in at almost 2 and a half hours this movie never gives you a moment to rest and recover from what you’ve just witnessed– with each new set piece and dream within a dream giving us something to think about. The movie features different levels of dreams where each dream has its own set of new rules and time differences which leaves us highly confused. I need not look further than Tv’s own Michael Scott from ‘The Office’ to describe how this excruciatingly confusing movie felt. He said and I quote ‘Saw Inception…. Or at least I dreamt I did’. This laughably accurate quote about the movie is exactly how many of us will be feeling once the credits roll.
Here is where the movie lets itself down a little. The dialogue can be clunky and full of exposition to let the audience know what is going on. While it is arguably necessary given the confusing nature of the dream worlds, there are times when it seems Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s lines are full of nothing but telling us how the world works and how we are supposed to make sense of it all. Not all the lines are bad or awkward, of course, and Christopher Nolan knows how to set up a mystery that sucks you in – once you see the ending, there is the inevitable feeling of, “Oh, of course!”
While expository dialogue is something that is somewhat of a norm in Nolan’s movies; we cannot look past the detailed the detailed storyline that plotted every step of the way to give us with this crazy new world of dreams. Worth mentioning too are the dream-altering scenes, with bridges popping up out of nowhere or an entire city bending in a circle to form a maze, the affects here are breathtaking and easily one of the best things about the movie, perfectly capturing the impossibility of a dream being rendered entirely possible.
Characters and Actors
As you might expect with such a talented cast, the acting in Inception is one of its biggest draws. Leonardo Di Caprio is in his element as the dynamic but troubled Dominic Cobb, who is constantly being tormented by his dead wife within the dreams he creates.
The supporting cast also don’t phone it in either, Elliot Page plays the emotional center of the team who continually urges Cobb to face his guilt instead of burying it deeper and deeper in layers of his subconscious. Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have an amusing dynamic of Eames doing his ample best to irritate the straitlaced Arthur. And Cillian Murphy provides a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of Robert Fischer, considering how little screen time he has in comparison to the others, each subtle facial expression or movement portraying a wide range of emotions.
One thing to mention is that despite the A listed cast; the actors did not have huge moments of character development or growth since the movie had to fit in all the grand set pieces and explain the entire story of this dreamworld in a short amount of time. Thus, although the acting justified the role; it was not out of this world or the best part of the movie.
Music and Cinematography
As usual, Hans Zimmer delivers an amazing score that perfectly captures the frenetic tension of the dream world crumbling around the characters, or the quieter scenes with Cobb as he wrestles with his demons (or in his case, ex-wife), there is no fault I can find with the music. When you have Hans Zimmer in charge, you can’t really go wrong.
The cinematography though; was arguably the best part of the movie. Wally Pfister and Nolan teamed up to provide us with some of the most memorable set pieces in movie history. With Nolan’s hatred of the use of CGI; the movie built an actual revolving hotel floor as we saw the actors film out a fight scene while the entire set was rotating. This scene along with the other beautiful visual moments were enough to secure the film with the Oscars for cinematography and visual effects.
If you’re a Nolan junkie who loves watching brilliant cinema that showcases some of the best cinematic moments in film history this is just the movie for you. Fans of big actors would also love to see this unbelievable ensemble team up together to fight time. If you are not a fan of a somewhat over complicated plot which will require all your attention for the entirety of the running time; then maybe you could check out some other great options on Netflix; since they’re not running short of movies anytime soon.