Water gushes over a body as it lies on the beach in semi-consciousness and cliffs tumble into the sea while human figures glide weightlessly in a passageway devoid of gravity as glass shatters opening the way to a different path where the walls of buildings explode outwardly and an entire city turns upside down as it fits itself in jigsaw-puzzle perfection over the mirror image that it left behind when it began to turn over.
Welcome to the incredible world of “Inception,” the dazzling, confusing, intriguing, stunning, thought-provoking, stimulating, puzzling, mind-boggling, frustrating, challenging, innovative, aggravating, jumbled, disjointed, uncohesive, convoluted, and brilliant new film directed by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight”) and starring three-time Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio.
When the final credits for “Inception” began rolling, I sat in my seat and asked myself, “What in the hell did I just see?” The question nagged at me all the way to the car, but before I arrived at an answer, another question arose in my mind: “Did I like that film?” On the ensuing drive home, I was unable to resolve either inquiry to my satisfaction, and so I pondered my theater experience well into the evening until the sudden arrival of simultaneous epiphanies provided me with the answers I had been seeking: I saw one of the most imaginative films ever to hit the silver screen, and I liked it so well that I want to see again because I am certain I missed a lot the first time through.
“Inception” is a combination of drama, science fiction, and fantasy about a man named Dom Cobb (DiCaprio), who has a very special talent. You see Dom can insert himself into people’s dreams and steal information from them. Large corporations pay him handsomely to purloin secrets from others that would not be available any other way and that will aid in their success. Dom is known as “The Extractor,” and he is so good at what he does that he has become an international fugitive, and he can never return home without the risk of endangering the lives of his two young children. (His wife is deceased.)
Dom has almost reconciled himself to the idea of never seeing his children again when he meets billionaire Saito (Ken Watanabe), who has a very interesting proposition for him. Saito has so much power that he can guarantee Dom safe passage back to his children in exchange for Dom’s pulling off one last job. The catch is the Saito doesn’t want Dom to extract information from the target who happens to be Saito’s huge rival. Instead he wants him to implant an idea in the man’s head and to do it so skillfully that the guy thinks it’s his own.
Although Dom has never done this before, he accepts the challenge and recruits the following team members to help him carry out the assignment: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his good friend who has worked with him for years; Earnes (Tom Hardy), an expert in the art of deception; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist with a gift for creating imaginative concoctions, and Ariadne (Ellen Page), an architect who is a genius at devising mazes and constructive innovative spaces.
After Dom organizes his team members, all you have to do is sit back and watch them create a three-level dream that causes their target to arrive at an idea that he never otherwise would have conceived. And it is an experience that you won’t soon forget.
“Inception” is one of those films that people are either going to love or hate. There won’t be much middle ground here. As I was watching it, I often became confused about whether the action was taking place in the present or in someone’s dream. At first this irritated me, but then I decided that it didn’t make any difference, and I just enjoyed the unique ride the film took me on.
The acting in the film is consistently superb, and it isn’t necessary to say anything more about it than that because the movie itself is the main character here. As it progresses, it drags you into its world of dreams, and you just sit there mesmerized by the incredible images it presents. The basic idea of being able to enter another’s dreams is at once fascinating and frightening, and in the film’s production notes, director Nolan explained the film’s premise.
“‘Inception’ hinges on the premise that it is possible to share dreams…dreams that have been designed to look and feel completely real while you’re in them. And in that subconscious state, a person’s deepest and most valuable secrets are there for the taking. At the heart of the movie is the notion that an idea is indeed the most resilient and powerful parasite. A trace of it will always be there in your mind…somewhere. The thought that someone could master the ability to invade your dream space, in a very physical sense, and steal an idea—no matter how private—is compelling.”
And DiCaprio, who has firmly established himself as one of Hollywood’s finest actors, offered the following insight into the film in the production notes.
“In essence, that’s what was immediately engaging to me about the script. It is this highly entertaining, complex thriller where anything can happen, but at the heart is one man’s quest to uncover a long-buried truth and to get back home. It’s also completely original; I don’t think anyone could say they’ve experienced anything like it before. That combination made me excited about working on the project, as well as with Chris Nolan. He is an expert at taking this kind of multi-layered storyline and making it true and tangible to an audience.”
It has been a very disappointing summer for films, but “Inception” (Give it a score of 9.) is the first one I have seen that has a bone fide chance of receiving a nomination as best picture of the year. And if someone told me that there would be another movie as original as this one coming along anytime soon, I would simply say, “In your dreams.”