Inception: You’re not dreaming, it’s that good
In this decade, it’s safe to say that many people interested in film production are able to appreciate the work of Christopher Nolan. Memento dazzled millions of moviegoers and confused even more; The Prestige romanticized the era of magicians in the late 1900s; and The Dark Knight made audiences love the villain even more than the hero. With his most recent release, Nolan has yet again created a masterpiece that tops all predecessors. While there were predictable summer blockbusters (like Iron Man 2 and the latest installment of the Twilight saga, Eclipse), nothing drew as much critical acclaim as Nolan’s latest psychological adventure, Inception.
At the beginning of the movie, audiences meet Cobb and Arthur, a duo that conducts “extractions” — procedures that involve invading someone’s dreams and stealing secrets. The pair is soon introduced to a wealthy businessman named Saito, who wants them to perform “inception” — a process that focuses on planting information rather than stealing it. Saito wants to invade the mind of Robert Fischer, a wealthy heir, and implant the idea to destroy his father’s company, which is on the verge of complete global monopolization. Immediately, Arthur says it’s dangerous and nearly impossible, but Cobb ignores the risk and promises he can deliver.
The three men put together a team for the job. They gain Eames, who can take on the physical form of anyone else while in a dream. They also get Ariadne, played by Ellen Page, an architect studying under Cobb’s grandfather (played by the always delightful Michael Caine, whose appearance in the movie is much too limited). It’s Ariadne’s job to design the layers of Fischer’s dream, into which the team will enter. Also on the job is Yusuf, a chemist who produces a sedative powerful enough that the team can experience their van tumbling five times over without waking from their sleep.
The crew goes through dreams within dreams where the stakes are raised each time, and all the while, Cobb is hiding a graveyard of the undead inside of him. He has personal issues for days, but he keeps it inside so as not to affect the team’s missions. His wife Mal likes to show up when she’s not needed, and this eventually becomes a hindrance to the team. Her villainous antagonism makes her someone we love to hate, but her love for Cobb is so pure, we gain a soft spot for her.
The movie is just about two and a half hours long, and every minute is enjoyable. From the opening scene of Cobb washing ashore in a unknown place to the closing scene (no spoilers here, but it’ll leave you with your jaw dropped and your mind’s gears still turning), the plot of Inception truly packs a punch. The movie will take your mind into a whole other dimension, and that’s the power behind the film: It’s so easy to get sucked into the world you’re watching. There are so many blurs between reality and dreams, even Cobb tells Ariadne, “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”
And as real as Nolan paints the dreams to be, he still stresses how you can “cheat” reality while within them. When Ariadne begins her initial dream design, she’s walking along the streets of Paris when the roads in front of her fold over and become the ceiling of the city. Another hypnotizing scene involves a fight scene in a hotel hallway. Doesn’t sound too unique? Let’s then add that there’s no gravity, so floor becomes ceiling, up becomes down, and your senses are taken on a whirlwind of adventure. Throughout the movie, when the crew is in a dream, strange things like time slowing down or gravity shifting provide for absolutely mesmerizing scenes.
Despite being such a fresh concept, Inception was actually birthed almost a decade ago, when Nolan wrote an 80-page proposal to Warner Bros. about stealing dreams. The ideas were all there, but his vision for the film needed to keep growing. So, instead of starting production on the project, Nolan took up Batman Begin and The Dark Knight for more experience with large-scale, big-budget films. After the success of these two movies, Nolan polished up the script, convinced Leonardo DiCaprio to star, and began filming this gem.
Commercially, Inception has been very successful. It’s made over $263 million in the States, which is impressive, but comparatively The Dark Knight took in $533 domestically. Worldwide, Inception has collected over $620 million and as of now is the fifth-highest grossing movie of the year. Critical reception has been mostly positive: Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an impressive 87 percent fresh rating; IMDb ranked it as the fourth best movie of all time, just under The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, and The Godfather: Part II.
However, no film is completely loved by all. Common criticisms target the film’s extensive length, some call it “overcomplicated,” and some even say that it tries too hard to fool you. Regardless, if you’re going to see it for the first time: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the world that Nolan is going to drag you into.