By: Addison Wylie
What is real? What is a dream? Your whole life right now, even when you’re reading this review, could be a dream. These are questions and situations Inception throws at its audience. Inception, the new film by director Christopher Nolan, is the equivalent to running on a treadmill while creating science experiments that emit large puffs of green smoke. It’s the type of film that will make you think with its logic and theories, it will make you gasp in awe at the inventive action sequences, your heart will be racing and your adrenaline will be pumping to see how the plot will end. Add excellent, polished performances and slick cinematography as well as editing and you have an exercise for your brain as well as your eyes.
I entered into my screening of Inception knowing little to nothing at all. In my opinion, this is the best way to go about your first viewing of the film. That said, this is usually where I provide a plot synopsis for the discussed film. In this case, no. No synopsis. It wouldn’t be right. I’ll tell you what though. I’ll give you a wee briefing on the main characters and what they’ve been proposed.
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The film follows Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The two not only share a friendship with one another but they are also co-workers. Cobb and Arthur are hired to enter people’s minds when their client is in a dream state. The co-workers then begin investigating for information or details that need to be uncovered. This time, however, they’ve been proposed a deal from a very wealthy business owner named Saito, played by Ken Watanabe, where they must do a lot more than just sniff around for information. Cobb is now forced to arrange a team of experts in order to fully pull off a job no one has ever successfully completed. What the audience then gets are many intense sequences of action and discussions that will make you wiggle up to the front of your seat and make you sit tight for its two-and-a-half hour duration. I feel like I’ve said to much already so let’s move on.
When the film begins, we see scenes of Cobb and Arthur executing a job. However, it is then revealed that they are in a dream within a dream. Immediately, a red flag goes up. The territory the film is now entering is a dicey one and few films I have seen are able to pull this off successfully. Now that I think of it, I can’t think of a single film that has done this without flaws. However, as the film progressed and explained its science a little further, I started to feel more at ease. Nolan, who also penned the script, is able to use DiCaprio, Levitt, and company to define the logic behind the movie while keeping the pacing of the film. I was worried that I would become easily lost and the material would become too convoluted; Nolan is aware this may be a hole the movie may fall into. Nolan has written a script that is very aware of itself and takes its time to justify decisions and sanities. In fact, the film takes its entire first half to fully entrap the audience within this alternate reality. At one point, Cobb even writes out the ultimate goal of the mysterious new job on a giant notepad; it can’t get much clearer than that. The script is filled with sharp dialogue as well as precise details about environments. Nolan is able to take his material and blend it onto a big screen. It’s easy to tell that he was able to recreate his vision successfully because he shows us settings that change in a blink of an eye and these are places, in both the mind and outside the mind, that are new to a lot of audience members. People may try to make connections to these elements in other movies such as The Matrix. Even I was finding similarities that came into play in Shutter Island. Nolan is able to take this subject matter and spin a web of something new.No matter how you try to tie this into something you’ve seen before, Nolan rips the carpet from underneath you. In addition to all this praise dedicated to Nolan’s writing and direction, the film features action scenes that are both artistic and enticing. Again, I won’t give too much away but there’s a scene where Levitt is facing off with someone in a hotel hallway that turns into something more than what my explanation provides.
Not only is the direction above par, but the acting is perfect as well. Not only do DiCaprio and Levitt nail their roles, their characters are extremely likable and we end up growing fond of the two. We are able to connect to the disconnection Cobb has with people in his life as well as what motivates him to fight. Levitt, given less screen time than DiCaprio, is able to pump as much energy as he can into each second he’s onscreen and he ends up shining as Arthur. Both characters are incredibly well developed. Even though it may seem like we don’t know much about Arhur’s history, there are enough clues within the movie to make the audience connect-the-dots. The supporting performances are impressive as well. Ellen Page does a great job as Ariadne, the newbie of this new branch of entering the mind. Cillian Murphy, who plays a young business man to a competing company of Saito’s, is on the same boat as Levitt. Even though he’s given less screen time than other actors, he is able to make this character someone the audience is cautious of but then grow to connect with him. Marion Cotillard is absolutely chilling as Mal, Cobb’s past love. However, the biggest supporting star was Tom Hardy as Eames, one of the dream team’s players. Every line he had, every body movement he performed, was delivered with a dapper technique and kept me involved with his character. I was missing his character when he wasn’t on screen. He delivered comic relief and he is a player that shouldn’t be overlooked.
It may seem like I glazed over elements in Inception or I gave a lot of details that seem like I was skimming the surface of the film itself. I really cannot stress how much more of an involving experience Inception can be when viewing it with an open mind. It’s the smartest film I’ve seen this season and definitely one of the high points to a slightly disappointing Summer. Everything is on the ball here. The performances are well crafted as well as the script. The direction is perfected and tight and Nolan can utilize crisp and clean cinematography and editing extremely well. In the end, I cannot recommend Inception enough.