Christopher Nolan has once again proved he is a very, very talented director. There’s absolutely no denying it after such hits as Batman Begins, Memento, The Dark Night, and now Inception in a short, thirteen year career. Inception is another installation in his efforts to make the ordinary, extraordinary.
A year ago, Nolan mezmerized the world with the action-filled The Dark Knight, And his ability to masquerade an extremely good action hero film as a modern masterpiece. This is what Nolan does. It’s his talent and livlihood. He makes the action genre seem new again. There’s nothing genuinely new in Inception. The marvel of the film, is that he makes it seem like there’s something there that we’ve never seen before, when we actually have.
The story, which is also penned by Nolan, follows a remarkable man named Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the same, emotionally haunted character he played in Shutter Island. Cobb is one of the leading players in a new field of sub-conscious corporate espionage. He explores the dreams of high-powered people, in order to steal their ideas, and secrets in the world of their dreams, when the subconscious is at its most susceptible. This business, as you can imagine, is both dangerous and lucrative.
Cobb is married to Mal, represented by Marion Cotillard. I say represented, because Mal isn’t actually a character in the film, but rather a representation of Cobb’s psyche. Is this getting confusing? Be prepared, the film is as well. I won’t reveal too many plot points, because doing so would ruin the magic that Nolan has created here. I will say, that due to criminal charges, Cobb is not allowed to return to the US, and congruently, his children, who live there. Cobb is presented with an opportunity, the chance to not only steal an idea from someone, but plant one in someone’s head without this person knowing. Cobb is, unfortunately, an undeveloped character. I say undeveloped because he is someone I would personally love to know more about.
Cobb assembles a solid team. There’s Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt), Cobb’s best friend. There’s Ariadne (Ellen Page), the new-comer “architect” of these dream worlds. She’s new, but extremely gifted. There’s Eames (Tom Hardy of RocknRolla fame), and Saito (Ken Watanabe), the rich gentlemen and CEO hiring Cobb to insert this idea into the new CEO of his rival company.
We mustn’t forget Cillian Murphy who plays Fischer Jr., this new young CEO.
There’s much ambiguity in the rules of the worlds Nolan creates. He allows for a science which creates the techonlogy of “group dreams.” Basically, an acid trip where all those tripping (and connected to the same machine) are allowed to experience together. This all occurs in the dream state. A dream state which is curiously mundane. My dreams do little to imitate rational life. But in Nolan’s world, somehow, this does not need explanation.
To explain the plot in plain terms would be to say that the Cobb’s team members have to synchronize events in a dream, within a dream, within a dream, within a subconscious. And in each of these states, there is a different speed of time. Again, this is confusing, I reiterate that there is much that I missed in my first viewing of Inception. The mischief this team gets into leads them from the downtown streets of a metropolis, to the confines of a extremely chic hotel, to snowy mountain tops, to a crumbling and abandoned city.
There are explosions, drama, a score that instructs the viewer on how to feel. All of this is nothing new. But again, I say, this is where Nolan is most talented, but falls short of a master of film. He takes what we’ve seen a million times before, puzzles, mystery, characters that aren’t fully developed, and makes it all seem intriguing, and takes a two hour and twenty two minute run times, and makes it feel like all I want is more.
The technical achievements of Inception deserve the most praise. There is a particularly stunning fight seen in a hotel between all sorts of “projections” and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, in which the pull of gravity is shifting constantly making their world spin over and over. The effects here are breathtaking, and in today’s screening, I was truly reminded of the importance of summer blockbusters.
There’s nothing visionary about Inception, but that doesn’t mean it was deftly directed, with brilliant performances, and a mindbending plot that will leave you completely in awe of this director.