Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard
Running Time: 2 hr 28 mins
Release Date: July 16, 2010
PLOT: Cobb (DiCaprio) is a man who infiltrates dreams to steal people’s secrets. Now he and his team must attempt to pull off their toughest mission ever; trying to convince a man that an idea he dreams is his own.
WHO’S IT FOR? If you are OK with being challenged at a movie theater, then buckle up. And if you’re not … then hopefully you have a good friend who can convince you you’re going to see Grown Ups for a second time, but then straps you into a chair next to him for Inception.
EXPECTATIONS: I hate having high hopes. I do my best to fight them off. This film was number one on my TOP 7 Most Anticipated Summer 2010 Movies. I managed to avoid 99 percent of all previews. Going into the movie I thought I would be shocked if the movie wasn’t at least a 7 or better for me. Nolan hasn’t made a bad movie yet. No reason to think this would be his first.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb: Most movie stars look good in a suit. DiCaprio looks better. Not only do you want a silencer in his hand, he’s also got some dark secrets he must deal with. It’s shown perfectly with that spooky elevator, where each level is a different memory that Cobb is holding on to. Who’s better at inner turmoil? OK, you’re right. Daniel Day-Lewis. But that took you a couple of seconds to come up with, right? I’m ready to pencil in DiCaprio as “Actor of the Year” with Shutter Island and now this.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur: I’m not saying Gordon-Levitt (GL) looked over the script and said to Nolan … “No, I don’t want to play Cobb, I’m Arthur.” I’m not saying GL had the choice. But if he did have that option, he made the right decision. Arthur is awesome. He’s logical and thinks of the team first. Something Cobb isn’t always able to do. Part sidekick, part comic relief and involved in the greatest scene (see below) that cinema has to offer so far in 2010. GL proves he doesn’t have to be full of cuteness and charm (500 Days of Summer) to shine on the big screen.
Ellen Page as Ariadne: Ariadne to our guide in better understanding this world. She joins the team as their new architect. It’s her imagination that builds the dreams this team infiltrates. Yes, she’s simply an architect student, but she can make mazes and somehow, that’s all the explanation I need. Less is more when entering this world.
Marion Cotillard as Mal: Man, Mal is a buzz kill. She’s always messing up Cobb’s plans. Sure, she’s been dead for a while, but that doesn’t stop her. This character is where Nolan really pushes us. It’s traumatic and a little scary to get involved with Mal. I think this is the character that will most divide audiences. I almost want to see a version of the film without her, just to see how much she amps up the tension.
Rest of Cast:
Ken Watanabe … Saito
Tom Hardy … Eames
Dileep Rao … Yusuf
Cillian Murphy … Robert Fischer, Jr.
Tom Berenger … Browning
Michael Caine … Miles
Look at those names above. It’s the best supporting cast of the year. Even Robert (Murphy) gets some quality father/son emotions going as the CEO looking for his dad’s approval. Saito (Watanabe) has a powerful presence, but he is a little hard to understand. Hardy steals the show with this group though. Eames is the cool cat, and I can’t wait to see more of Hardy. It’s great to see his range after Bronson from a couple years ago.
TALKING: They actually do explain themselves. You need to wait about 30 minutes. Cobb starts spelling it out once Ariadne shows up. The film actually manages to feel more confusing than it actually is. In almost all situations, your hunch is correct. The issue is, it’s such a unique world that Nolan has created, it’s almost like you need to check in with yourself every 10 minutes. Figure out what you have learned. Process it. Then move on. I love the experience.
SIGHTS: There is such cinematic beauty in this world. Not only is everyone oozing personal style, the landscape is something you won’t forget. Each dream has its own individual look. Sure the James Bond-like skiing sequence at the end feels a little out of place, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fun to watch. I haven’t made a TOP 7 Slow Motion Moments in Cinematic History, but Inception would definitely be near the top. Again, see the Best Scene section below.
SOUNDS: Overpowering in the best way possible. They turn the bass up to 11 and let the repeating crank of thumping boom make you more nervous than the last. It’s like the good version of a vuvuzela. Plus, a song plays as a kick to get these out of dreams. They use a song from Edith Piaf, though I am not sure if that was a nod to Marion Cotillard, who played her in La Vie En Rose.
BEST SCENE: A big white van goes over the edge of a bridge. That leads to zero gravity within another dream, and Arthur must run through a rotating hall while fighting off the bad guy. It feels like a cinematic moment that I will be talking about for years. I wanted something that would make my jaw drop. This did the trick.
ENDING: I will say, I thought the end would be a little bit different, though very similar in tone. Completely necessary. It leaves everyone who sees it desperate to talk.
QUESTIONS: My main question is on Eames remark to Arthur, when he tells him he’s got to dream bigger. It was the one thing in the film that felt out of place. The reason I say that is because I didn’t think this was like The Matrix where they could simply decide to have guns (or bigger guns). I also thought the architect created the physical world and it wasn’t Eames’ dream. Yes, it was a cool idea, I just didn’t understand the logic used to create that moment in this world.
REWATCHABILITY: Simply to watch my “Best Scene” again, I would happily sit through the 2.5 hour film. In fact, I am going to take my wife and friends to see it again this Saturday. I’ll let you know in the comments section if I have any new epiphany.
Do dreams matter? Most of us have already made up our mind’s with that question. But here’s a better question: Do movie dreams matter? Almost all of the time, the answer is no. They’re used as a gimmick, a joke, a shock, but otherwise they don’t serve much of a purpose. Inception changes those rules. Dreams matter. They matter a whole hell of a lot. It’s crazy that you could actually attempt to explain this movie by saying it’s about trying to get a CEO to make a different business decision. This film taps into some of the same emotions as Nolan’s previous work, Memento. It’s an unsteady world, and we are desperately looking for answers, for sturdy ground. Sometimes we get it with DiCaprio’s Cobb, but not all of the time. The idea behind Inception is that ideas matter. A single thought can burn so deep into your brain there is just no way out. This movie stays with you, you want to show it off to your friends. You want to discuss it and see what they think.
It’s like a spinning top, Inception spins you around and you feel a little disorientated, but you can’t wait to see where it goes next, and you hope it can keep going just a little bit longer.
FINAL SCORE: 10/10