One of the more exciting parts of this gig, besides seeing modern-day classics like “Macgruber” and “Marmaduke” of course, is seeing a brilliant film for the first time. Nothing can quite top that sense of awe and wonder about what’s going to happen next. While it won’t be the exact same, I imagine that in watching ‘Inception’ very little of that awe and wonder will diminish from one of the most groundbreaking and original films I’ve seen in the last decade.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since ‘Inception’ was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the genius behind “Memento,” “The Prestige” and the second highest grossing movie of all time “The Dark Knight.” [2012 FF: Stupid “Avatar!”] “Inception” is Nolan’s sixth full-length film, and marks the last indicator that he’s operating on a totally different level than his peers. He doesn’t need 3D or any other here today, gone tomorrow fad to sell movie tickets. His gimmick? Exemplary storytelling that draws you in and keeps you thinking about what you’ve just witnessed long after the final credits.
It’s part “Ocean’s Eleven,” parts “Mission Impossible” with a dash of “The Fugitive” and “The Usual Suspects,” with a little something for everyone. The only difference is you won’t have to check your brain at the door to enjoy it.
Set somewhere in the future, a new skill set has emerged and these extractors have mastered the art of creating a dream world and luring a subject into this imaginary world, then planting ideas to change their viewpoints.
Want a charismatic speaker to encourage millions to take up a crusade? Have an extractor go in and ‘push’ him into supporting said crusade. Among the very best extractors are Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘Shutter Island’) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’).
The pair are recruited by Saito, (Ken Watanabe, “Batman Begins“) a wealthy businessman who wants them to ‘convince’ Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy, “The Dark Knight”) to dissolve his father’s monopoly to ensure a healthier worldwide financial situation. Cobb could care less about which business has control of what empire, but Saito’s promise to reunite him with his children is all the incentive Cobb needs to take the job. Being a loyal friend, Arthur agrees to it as well, which is all the better for us as Levitt absolutely nails this role and he has excellent chemistry with DiCaprio.
The job takes more than a two-man team, so in excellent heist film fashion, Cobb and Arthur recruit the rest of their team — dream world designers Ariadne (Ellen Page, “Juno”) and Yusuf (Dileep Rao, “Avatar”) and Eames (Tom Hardy, “RocknRolla”) as the James Bond-type [2012 FF: Hardy would make for a fun Bond villain…] — and lay out the seemingly impossible task. Nolan smartly inserts Ariadne as the audience proxy so we learn everything as she does.
Saito insists on accompanying the team into Fischer’s mind, leaving open the possibility that he’s not as altruistic with his goals as he implies. But the real issue might be Cobb’s dead wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard, “Public Enemies”) who is hell-bent on thwarting all of Cobb’s plans.
While DiCaprio gets the bulk of the time in the trailer, the film is much more an ensemble piece with every actor getting a chance to shine, although I’d really like to see Levitt and Hardy becoming part of Nolan’s stable of go-to actors, perhaps even in his third Batman film? [2012 FF: Done and done!]
With dreams being the main backdrop, the only limitation is Nolan’s imagination and he seems to revel in the opportunity with buildings shattering as the dreamer becomes aware that their dream world is not reality, cityscapes going into the air and a zero gravity fight that is choreographed and shot so beautifully that words can’t do it justice.
You won’t have another cinematic experience like this all year and I can’t imagine a film topping this for Best of 2010 honors. Despite its two- and a half-hour length, it flies by and just like a great dream you don’t want to wake up from, even after the end credits start, you’ll desperately crave five more minutes.
Rating: 10 out of 10