In the world of Inception, the technology exists that allows people to penetrate the human mind in its most vulnerable state, through dreams. This allows them to extract personal and valuable secrets, and Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is just the skilled thief who can make it happen. It is this very skill, however, that has labeled Cobb as an international fugitive, forcing him to travel on the run through Europe and Asia.
Desperate to get back to his family, Cobb needs the help of a powerful man, one whose phone call could remove Cobb’s fugitive label, allowing him to return to his family in America. That man is Saito (Ken Watanabe), a Japanese entrepreneur. In order to secure the assistance of Saito, however, Cobb must agree to perform a nearly impossible act on Saito’s leading business competitor, Robert Fisher, Jr. (Cillian Murphy): inception. Rather than merely extracting ideas and secrets from an individual, inception involves implanting an idea in an individual’s mind and allowing it to grow. The difficulty, however, is making that individual believe that the idea was in fact, his own.
Because of this very obstacle, inception involves implanting the simplest form of the idea in the deepest levels of one’s subconscious by penetrating through layers of the mind. It is a task that Cobb willingly takes, and he secures a team of intelligent and experienced individuals to help him achieve success. Accompanied by Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), Earnes (Tom Hardy), Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and Saito, Cobb begins his descent into the defensive subconscious of Robert Fisher, Jr.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the team, Cobb is plagued by memories of his deceased wife (Marion Cotillard) that are stored in his own subconscious, and those memories creep into the dreams of those that Cobb enters. Cobb’s inability to control those subconscious thoughts could prove to be detrimental to himself and the team in a task that is already highly dangerous.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, who boasts such hits as The Dark Knight, The Prestige, and Memento, Inception is virtually a marriage of Shutter Island and The Matrix. Much of the film forces viewers to question where reality has ended and the dream has begun. It is the type of film that does not allow viewers even a moment to blink or leave the theater, lest they may miss something that is entirely necessary to understand the film.
Dom Cobb is a truly tortured character. And who could become Dom Cobb but Leonardo DiCaprio? The actor has already proven his ability to live up to this role by his performances in Revolutionary Road and Shutter Island, both wonderful films where DiCaprio played men haunted by memories and dreams gone awry. DiCaprio has truly grown into a magnificent actor, with an ability to show an array of emotions in a single facial expression. With the exception of a few films, DiCaprio can add Inception to an already-impressive rsum that showcases his abilities as one of the greatest young actors of our time.
In addition to impeccable acting, the graphics, fight scenes, and explosions found in Inception are enough to secure a nomination for Best Cinematography. Much of the film spans across multiple realities and dream sequences, a risky strategy that only a director like Christopher Nolan could do so well.
Inception does not pander to the standards set by all modern movies to include a strong female character, a tactic which oftentimes seems out of place. Instead, all of the characters appear to be a bit unsure of themselves, especially Cobb, though few of them willingly admit to it. It is that very uncertainty that draws the audience into the film, forcing viewers to actively engage in every moment of the movie.
Avoiding temptations to include unnecessary sexual content and even profanity, Inception’s sole focus is its intricate plot and flawless acting. While there is violence, it is not at all graphic, and is usually committed against subconscious projections of the mind. Therefore, nobody actually dies.
Ambiguity resonates throughout the entire film, from the very beginning to the last second. It is a fractured story that comes together, to a degree, leading viewers from utter confusion to a final “ah.”
If you are tired of movies that seem merely to insult your intelligence, Inception would be the perfect film for you, as it truly necessitates an audience of bright viewers. If you are interested in being a complacent moviegoer with little interest in putting together pieces of a puzzle, perhaps Inception is not your forte.
My prediction is that you can expect to see Inception nominated for a variety of well-deserved Academy Awards.