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INCEPTION (2010) ***** movie review by COOP

Posted on July 19th, 2010
Posted on July 19th, 2010

Every few years or so, a film comes along that changes the way you look at cinema… One that incites scholarly debates, spawns books dedicated to analyzing it and inspires lesser filmmakers to shamelessly imitate it. Critics have to watch a lot (a whole lot) of bad movies to find these diamonds in the rough. I had a sneaking suspicion “Inception” might be a “crown jewel” in the rough, but often when I get that feeling I shuffle out of the theater with nothing but lumps of coal in my pocket. Not this time. In fact, I think “Inception” is possibly the greatest film I’ve seen in the past 10 years.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) specializes in an espionage technique called “extraction” which allows him and a team of spies to infiltrate the dreams of high-profile business leaders and steal valuable corporate secrets. When business mogul Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers Cobb a job he can’t refuse, Cobb assembles a team of the best dream raiders in the biz: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is Cobb’s #1 agent. Eames (Tom Hardy) is an expert imposter and weapons master. The rookie architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page) designs dream worlds like elaborate traps. Yusuf (Dileep Rao) concocts experimental sedatives to produce deceptive “dreams-within-dreams”. However, the team has their work cut out for them in when they learn the object of the job is “inception”, or the planting of an idea into the head of a corporate heir (Cillian Murphy) to convince him to dismantle his father’s powerful empire. Such a mission has only been conducted once by Cobb, with disastrous results.

Now if this already seems like a fairly cerebral plot, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The spectral presence of Cobb’s wife (Marion Cotillard) haunts Cobb in the dream world and torments him at every turn {The eventual revelation of their dark secret is one of the biggest twists in the film}. Dreams-within-dreams make the plot a risky juggling act, especially when it begins to have devastating effects on the perception of time. Actions happening in the real world, or on other dream levels, cause additional hazards such as violent earthquakes and zero gravity for the dreamers. As in real dreams, death isn’t a threat to the characters, but the threat of becoming trapped within the hallucinatory dream “limbo” for decades can become a fate worse than hell.

I’m only scratching the surface of the concepts writer/director Christopher Nolan is playing with in this film. For attempting to balance all of them at once, he’s a madman. For succeeding, he’s a genius. He must have other Hollywood super-directors green with envy and stomping on their hats for raising the bar once again and making their jobs more difficult.

If it sounds like “Inception” is for egg-heads, I can confirm that on some levels this is correct. Despite the fact that the dream-within-dreams, “totems”, “projections” and the concept of being banished to “dream limbo” might confuse many viewers, Nolan balances that out with a healthy dose of spectacular action and flawless special effects. If a viewer gets lost, Nolan sets up plenty of context clues to help them find their way back and if that doesn’t work… hey, here’s a cool shot of a city folding on top of itself. That isn’t to say Noland cheats because he doesn’t. All the pieces are present and they all fit perfectly, but once again Noland wins because the detailed complexity may inspire viewers to see the film again in order to really grasp how masterfully the pieces fit.

The acting truly inspires as well. Every player, including the criminally underused Michael Caine as Cobb’s father-in-law, can raise their flag a little higher for delivering top-notch performances based on such a challenging script. Gordon-Levitt especially stands out in an awe-inspiring, zero gravity combat/rescue sequence which certainly hints at his capabilities as a future Hollywood action star.

I’m going to make four predictions regarding the Oscar-worthiness of “Inception” in 2011: 1. Hans Zimmer will receive an Academy nomination for composing the most unique musical score of his career. 2. Christopher Nolan will get a nomination for “Best Original Screenplay”. 3. Christopher Nolan will also get nominated for “Best Director” (many say he should have gotten this nomination for “The Dark Knight”). 4. “Inception” will be nominated for “Best Motion Picture”. I’m sure of it.

If you’re still wondering whether you’ll appreciate “Inception” half as much as I did, ponder this… I saw it in a completely packed theater in the middle of the afternoon and no one made a peep for two hours and twenty eight minutes. When’s the last time you ever experienced THAT in a movie?

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

-Coop

P.S.  “Inception” also has one of the best-cut trailers I’ve ever seen…

 

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