PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and along with his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) perform illegal corporate espionage by entering the subconscious minds of their targets, using two-level “dream within a dream” strategies to “extract” valuable information. Each of the “extractors” carries a “totem”, a personalized small object whose behavior is unpredictable to anyone except to the totem’s owner, to determine if they are within another person’s dream. Cobb’s totem is a spinning top which spins perpetually in the dream state. Cobb struggles with memories of his dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) that manifest within the dream and try to sabotage his efforts.
Cobb is approached by the wealthy Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) asking them to perform the act of “inception”, planting an idea within the person’s subconscious mind. Saito wishes to break up the vast energy empire of his competitor, the ailing Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), by suggesting this idea to his son Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) who will inherit the empire when his father dies. Should Cobb succeed, Saito promises to use his influence to clear Cobb of the murder charges for his wife’s death, allowing Cobb to re-enter the United States and reunite with his children. Cobb assembles his team: Eames (Tom Hardy), an identity forger; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a chemist who concocts the powerful sedative needed to stabilize the layers of the shared dream; and Ariadne (Ellen Page), a young student architect tasked with designing the labyrinth of the dream landscapes. While planning the inception, Ariadne learns of the guilt Cobb struggles with from Mal’s suicide and his separation from his children when he fled the country as a fugitive.
The job is set into motion when Maurice Fischer dies and his son accompanies his father’s body from Sydney to Los Angeles. During the flight, Cobb sedates Fischer, and the team bring him into a three-level shared dream. At each stage, the member of the team who is “creating” the dream remains while the other team members fall asleep within the dream to travel further down into Fischer’s subconscious. The dreamers will then ride a synchronized system of “kicks” (a car diving off a bridge, a falling elevator, and a collapsing building) back up the levels to wake up to reality. In the first level, Yusuf’s dream of a rainy city, the team successfully abducts Fischer, but the team is attacked by Fischer’s militarized subconscious projections, which have been trained to hunt and kill extractors. Saito is mortally wounded during the shoot-out, but due to the strength of Yusuf’s sedative, dying in the dream will send them into limbo, a deep subconscious level where they may lose their grip on reality and be trapped indefinitely.
Eames takes the appearance of Fischer’s godfather Peter Browning (Tom Berenger) to suggest that he reconsider his opinion of his father’s will. Yusuf remains on the first level driving a van through the streets, while the remaining characters enter Arthur’s dream, taking place in a corporate hotel. Cobb turns Fischer against Browning and persuades him to join the team as Arthur runs point, and they descend to the third dream level, a snowy mountain fortress dreamed by Eames, which Fischer is told represents Browning’s subconscious. Yusuf’s evasive driving on the first level manifests as distorted gravity effects on the second and an avalanche on the third.
Saito succumbs to his wounds, and Cobb’s projection of Mal sabotages the plan by shooting Fischer dead. Cobb and Ariadne elect to enter limbo to find Fischer and Saito. There, Cobb confronts his projection of Mal, who tries to convince him to stay with her and his kids in limbo. Cobb refuses and confesses that he was responsible for Mal’s suicide: to help her escape from limbo during a shared dream experience, he inspired in her the idea that her world wasn’t real. Once she had returned to reality, she became convinced that she was still dreaming and needed to die in order to wake up. Through his confession, Cobb attains catharsis and chooses to remain in limbo to search for Saito; Eames defibrillates Fischer to bring him back up to the third-level mountain fortress, where he enters a safe room and discovers and accepts the idea to split up his father’s business empire.
Leaving Cobb behind, the team members escape by riding the kicks back up the levels of the dream. Cobb eventually finds an elderly Saito who has been waiting in limbo for decades in dream time (just a few hours in real time), and the two help each other to remember their arrangement. The team awakens on the flight; Saito arranges for Cobb to get through U.S. customs, and he goes home to reunite with his children. Cobb uses his spinning top to test reality but is distracted by his children before he sees the result.
I’ve actually received quite a few inquiries as to why/when am I going to review Inception. Well, here it is.
Let me say this first, I am no fan of Christopher Nolan. While everyone else seems to worship the ground this guy walks on, I think he’s overrated and his pictures are just an excuse for him to show the world how messed up he is psychologically. Having said that, I did rather enjoy this picture, much more than The Dark Knight.
Don’t even bother asking me what the film is about because I couldn’t tell you without causing mass confusion. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. As someone said about this picture, it is one of those films that makes you think from beginning to end…especially the end.
It is no secret that I prefer films that require little to no thought. For me, they are just more enjoyable. I watch movies as an escape. That’s what they were initially made for, anyway. However, a film like this is a welcome departure from the norm for me every now and then.
Nolan prefers his films to be rooted in reality, so the only way he coul feasibly get away with rolling a city on itself (you see part of this happening in the trailer), is to have this happen in someone’s dreams, where anything can happen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily go around turning cities upside down like that in my dreams, but whatever.
So, Leonardo DiCaprio is apparently working for some mysterious benefactors and has gained this skill of manipulating people’s thoughts through dreams. This leads the viewer to wonder what part of the film is “real” and what is dream, much in the same way the first couple of films in The Matrix trilogy had you wondering.
I really liked this notion of more or less implanting thoughts through dreams, but one has to wonder…has it already been done? Maybe I’ve gone into your dreams and told you to read this post? Maybe you told me to write this? Who knows?
As with any film of this nature nowadays, they have to insert the drama. This comes in the form of Marion Cotillard’s character, Mal, who apparently committed suicide and inadvertently framed Leonardo DiCaprio for it. Now, she “haunts” his subconscious and causes trouble for him and his team.
This is not a film filled with nothing but subconscious mumbo jumbo. There actually is a lot more action here than I expected. This actually helps move the film along at a brisk pace, because without it, this picture could very well have fallen into the category of “will this never end” boredom!
Each of the cast is great. I think this is one of the few DiCaprio films that I actually liked him in (Titanic was all about Kate Winslet).
Joseph Gordon-Levitt really surprised me with this very serious, buttoned up role as Arthur. Something we’re not used to seeing from him. Of course, the same thing could have been said about him in G.I. Joe:Rise of Cobra, right?
If there was a weak link, it had to be Ellen Page. Once again, she’s playing the same role we’ve seen her do a million times before, that of the rebellious youth who wants to do her own thing. She seriously needs to try something different.
Nolan also brought in his usuals, Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine. I half expected to see Christian Bale turn up somewhere, but then again, it looks like Murphy was trying to be Bale.
What did I think of Inception? Well, I’m not gushing over it the way everyone else seems to be, but I did rather enjoy it. I’m just not into these types of films, I guess. I mean, had there been more action and not so much exposition and unnecessary drama, not to mention a shorter runtime, I might have loved it. Still, I would highly recommend that you see this film. I will say it was one of the best films of 2010.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars