Friday, 16 July 2010

Inception - Dir. Christopher Nolan

Visually mesmerizing and narratively enthralling, Christopher Nolan’s stop-gap project before he commits to the third film in his Batman saga is a non-stop thrill ride which delivers on all levels; consciously and sub-consciously. Like everybody else in the real world, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has a full-time job except, unlike the rest of society, his job transcends realities. His work involves extracting confidential and sensitive information from client’s minds as they wander in an artificial dream-like state. To attempt this intricate process, they require an ‘architect’ who will construct the dream world in which the client’s subconscious is drawn into, before extracting the information from them. As Cobb mentions however, this process can essentially degenerate into ‘theft’ as clients may subconsciously place their secrets inside a bank or safe, which the team will have to crack to explore and exploit.

After a job goes askew, Cobb is hired by the shady businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to perform an almost impossible, and incredibly complex act; Inception. Instead of extracting an idea or information, inception requires the planting of an idea into the subconscious mind of the client, thereby influencing any potential future decisions they may make, e.g. implanting into the mind of a client the suggestion that they should release an inferior product in the future to allow a rival competitor to prosper. Cobb assembles together a well-respected and able team of experts willing to commit to the act of inception, including the forger Eames (Tom Hardy), who has the ability to assume any identity in the dream world, the architect Adriadne (Ellen Page) who is young student constructing the world in which they will tread, the chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) who is providing the substances that will allow them to stay under in the dream world for an extended period of time, and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is the team’s ‘point man’ and Cobb’s highly regarded second in command.

Despite its hundred and sixty million dollar budget which is most prominent in the film’s stunning visuals, the real endearing aspect of ‘Inception’ is the brilliant story which Nolan allows to slowly unravel throughout the two hours and twenty minutes of run time. Constantly keeping the tension at appropriate heights, while also allowing the story to develop showcasing various twists and tales, Nolan’s screenplay is the intricate competent which truly makes the film work on various inter-connecting levels. From mystery-thriller, to science fiction and a hefty dose of drama, as the story unfolds, the visuals dazzle, and the characters themselves continue to grow, develop and prosper in this artificial environment.

On the surface ‘Inception’ is a heist movie in really simple, generic terms, but under the surface it contains underlying themes of love, loss, grief and the inability to forget those we used to, and still do love. Despite constantly being surrounded by dangerous situations in both realities, Cobb’s real danger comes in the form of his memories and in particular those of his wife (Marion Cotillard). While the other members of his team seem to perform their actions for the thrill of the event and the payment on delivery, Cobb is instead restricted by outside factors which keep him constrained within his transcending prison of never-ending certainty, and this (in?)sanity is projected to the audience in a typically emotional and brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio performance. Aside from DiCaprio, the always radiant Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives yet another proficient acting performance he can be proud of. Yet, despite the array of talent on show including DiCaprio and Sir Michael Caine, no doubt for the next few months the name trickling out of the Casting Department’s on both sides of the Atlantic will be that of the gentlemanly Tom Hardy. From obscurity to the A-List in a matter of years, not bad for the London man who only got his leading role a mere eighteen months ago.

But the real question here is; Can Christopher Nolan do no wrong? With ‘Inception’ comes the directors seventh feature film, and with this his sixth film to open to startling critical acclaim, and as many will agree, rightly so. Nolan has created a fantastically imaginative world where nobody is even safe, even when their bodies shut down and decide to roam the depths of the human subconscious. His story draws you in, while the gravity-defying action and unstable personalities of the characters keep you deeply rooted in your seat for a well-spent two hours and twenty minutes of pure, leisurely cinematic enjoyment.
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