Review: Inception

Posted July 13th, 2010 at 7:53 am

The expectations that come with following up one of the most successful movies of all time, both in terms of box office and critical response, would seem to set up the potential to be let down. Christoper Nolan could have had his choice of projects after The Dark Knight, however he decided to go with his own original project with Inception. In doing so Nolan has delivered a brilliantly crafted psychological thriller that is rich and challenging without being overwhelming.

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) heads up a team with skills that allow them to enter a subject’s mind through their dreams, or craft dreams for their subconscious to enter without knowing the difference. Typically this has been done to steal ideas. However “inception” is the process of implanting an idea in a subjects mind. The difficulty comes in doing so in a manner that leaves the subject unaware they have been manipulated and believing that the idea was their own to begin with. Cobb is tasked with completing this extremely challenging job in the hope that it will be his last.

It may not be quite as taut as The Dark Knight, but Inception introduces so many unique elements and takes the story in such a direction that it is just as satisfying. Considering much of the film takes place in dream states there are liberties that can be taken which leads to some great exploration of the possibilities of the mind. In doing so it almost gets the audience to question what might or might not be real. As Cobb declares you only realize something was strange with a dream once you awake from it. Visually the movie comes off convincing which is a testament to the special effects and world that Nolan has created.

It is really difficult to pick out particular issues with the film, and any would certainly be minor in retrospect, but it wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t completely sold on Ellen Page as this incredibly creative mind though she grew on me over the course of the movie. She just stood out from the other actors who brought so much credibility and gravity to their roles. Inception wasn’t quite as tense as I expected it to be, while I was completely caught up in it I didn’t feel a sense of dread or doom, which could be attributed to them being within a dream state and knowing the rules didn’t really apply there.

The story took a bit of time to understand before it kicked into gear. Even through the very end there were questions being asked and explanations being given, but surprisingly after about the first half hour everything clicked. Despite the depth and web of movement I never felt overwhelmed or lost and that was one of my main concerns going in. This isn’t a movie that will leave people feeling they need to see it again to understand it, but they very well may feel that doing so will allow the intricacies to be more closely noted and examined.

DiCaprio turned in a fantastic performance but his character wasn’t quite as fun to watch as some of the supporting cast, particularly Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy. DiCaprio had a much more nuanced and challenging angle to take on however and was tasked with holding everything together and to no surprise he pulled it off. I’ve become a big fan of Gordon-Levitt having enjoyed many of his films throughout his career and he really could launch into stardom after showing further range and holding his own next to someone like DiCaprio.

Inception is an absolute must-see in a year that has been filled with disappointing releases and mediocre sequels or remakes. It is a refreshing original story with masterful direction and terrific performances. Despite the hype and expectations, which can sometimes end up damaging the experience, Inception is incredibly satisfying with a conclusion that will leave audiences talking.

Rating: ★★★★½

Inception is rated PG-13 and opens on July 16th.