Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan
As I’ve stated before on this web site, this summer’s crop of movies has been mostly uninspiring. With the exception of a few gems, we’ve been subjected to a seemingly endless parade of shallow sequels and brainless action films for the past two months. Christopher Nolan’s newest film Inception, however, is a breath of fresh air amongst many of the stale offererings we’ve had so far this summer. Like all of Nolan’s films, it’s a high-octane action film with an original concept, eye-popping visuals, and in ingenious script. Nolan could have taken the easy route after his wildly successful Batman sequel The Dark Knight in 2008 and just coasted on his cred for his next movie, but he chose instead to make his most ambitious film to date and therefore has made his best movie yet.
The plot of Inception takes the standard heist movie storyline and turns it on its ear. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, the leader of a group of theives who possess a device that make it possible to enter the dreams of their victims and steal valuable information from their minds. Actually, they don’t enter the dreams so much as they create the dreams themselves and bring the victim’s subconscious into it. The majority of the film follows Cobb and his team as they face their greatest challenge – instead of taking information, they plan on invading the subconscious of the heir to a vast energy corporation (Cillian Murphy) and plant an idea in his head that will benefit his competitors. This mission leads the entire team into a highly dangerous situation, mostly because Cobb is constantly being pursued in his dreams by his memories of Moll, his dead wife, played by Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard. The journey within the subconscious that these characters take is fascinating because it works both as an action movie and as a deep psychological profile of its main character.
For his seventh feature film, Nolan draws from the themes of all his previous efforts to make something truly original and groundbreaking in his already impressive film career. The character of Cobb shares many attributes with Nolan’s previous protagonists, from Leonard in Memento to Batman himself. The movie’s use of visual effects to service the storyline is very reminiscent of the original Matrix, yet it doesn’t get as overly showy as that previous film did. The two most effects-heavy scenes in the film are when Cobb shows his young protege Ariadne (Ellen Page) how to create the “dream world” in which they operate and when Cobb’s partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) does battle with their victim’s subconscious in a hotel hallway in one of the dreams. The less you know about these scenes, the more you will enjoy how they use special effects to thrill the viewer and reinforce the overall theme of the film.
Critics have called Nolan a modern-day Alfred Hitchcock, a comparison that I feel is not only fair but one-hundred percent accurate. No other director since Hitchcock has been able to marry deep psychological themes with highly entertaining plots like Nolan can. Inception has no shortage of thrilling action sequences, big explosions, and flawless effects and stunts, but they are all done to serve a deep, fascinating story revolving around these characters. Inception is not only the best film of the Summer so far – it’s quite definitely one of the best films of 2010 and receives 5 out of 5 Spinning Tops.