Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inception: "Dreams feel real when we're in them."

Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a fugitive from U.S. law, who specializes in a very unique service: subliminal security. This complex, and very fictional, type of security involves entering the dream-world of the targeted sleeper and extracting information from their subconscious. In an attempt to buy back his freedom and be reunited with his children, DiCaprio's character accepts a job offer that takes the process even further, by planting an idea inside a sleeper's head. Thus: inception. Granted, this is high-concept, and could pretty easily be the premise of the Sci-Fi Channel's movie of the week. But, director Christopher Nolan invests the film with fully realized ideas and layers of complexity that are suspenseful from beginning to end. It's also visually audacious in its depictions of the dream-state. If you've ever wanted to see the city of Paris rise into the air and fold in on itself, well, this is the film for you. Aiding DiCaprio in his subliminal invasion, of billionaire corporate scion Cilian Murphy, are Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, and Dileep Rao. (I'm going on record here in stating that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is almost certainly the best-dressed young actor in Hollywood. But, I'll save that list for another blog entry.) Many 'heist film' trappings are on display here, notably a hero who must assemble a group of professionals for the one big score that he so desperately needs. There is also corporate intrigue, high energy chase scenes, prolonged action sequences, and haunting psychological complexity involving DiCaprio and his wife, played by Marion Cotillard. All of these strands are artfully assembled, and at 148 minutes, the film never seemed to lag. Inception may not be the masterpiece that some critics have made it out be, but it is a stylish, inventive thriller that raises interesting questions about dreams and the nature of reality. For a mainstream movie released in the summer of 2010, that's a pretty extraordinary accomplishment.

What follows are the highlights of Christopher Nolan's filmography. I recommend all of  his previous films, but Memento is particularly relevant to Inception's themes of haunted memory and obsession. It's also just a really good movie.

Memento (2000)

Batman Begins (2005)

The Prestige (2006)

The Dark Knight (2008)

Following (1998)