Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe.
WHETHER it’s a superhero-fuelled blockbuster or a smaller scale passion project, the common thread within all of Christopher Nolan’s films is layered character development and an examination of the fears and beliefs that lie within our psyches… this, and perhaps the evocative aural landscapes of composer extraordinaire, Hans Zimmer.
Inception blends Nolan’s knack for three-dimensional characters with Zimmer’s skills with scoring, to create magnificent mindscapes, and to call upon a cadre of Batman Begins alumni to populate his multi-layered world.
At its core, Inception is a heist movie where corporate espionage works very differently. Gone are the days of gallivanting across rooftops and breaking into offices to steal sensitive information. True professionals, such as Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) inhabit their target’s subconscious and extract what they need while their subject is in a dream state.
Each extraction carries its own risks, with Cobb’s own emotional baggage occasionally bleeding through his carefully constructed dreamscapes to wreak havoc on his team’s best laid plans.
When a botched mission leaves Cobb and his crew exposed, their mark, company director, Saito (Watanabe) instead becomes their employer, offering Cobb a chance at redemption, along with a risky proposition. Instead of teasing company secrets from the sleeping brain of a competitor, Saito suggests inception—where the team must plant the seed of an idea via the power of suggestion, then allow the target’s mind to mature the thought into action, none the wiser that he has been manipulated.
To achieve inception, Cobb recruits a band of specialists to create a tri-layered dream system, with each journey delving deeper into the subject’s subconscious, and each level carrying exponentially greater risks, the least of which are Cobb’s own mental defences.
Keeping his increasingly unstable subconscious a secret from the rest of the team proves a challenge that not even Cobb’s team of skilled extractors are guaranteed to overcome.
The character of Cobb is burdened with emotional guilt and distress, and DiCaprio plays the role convincingly. It’s an intriguing concept—projecting your emotional baggage and insecurities not only on to others but also on to the world. DiCaprio is solidly supported by Ellen Page (Juno) as skilled architect Ariadne, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (G.I. Joe) as his right-hand man, Arthur, but it is the anchoring performances by the charismatic Tom Hardy (Bronson) and wonderfully understated Ken Watanabe (Letters From Iwo Jima) that truly seals the deal.
Visually, Inception is astounding, with a fascinating blending of the lines between reality, imagination and special effects, providing each layer of the dream worlds with a distinct feel. From the highway car chase and luxury hotel to the snow-capped military base and surreal world of limbo, Nolan has created a lush cinematic playground of both visual and psychological proportions, proving that Hollywood need not focus on remaking already average films when such original thinkers as Christopher Nolan are standing in the wings ready to blow our minds.
Inception opens nationally July 22nd.