Inception is a clever film that combines summer’s core ingredients of big-budget, star actors, spectacular action sequences and believable effects with the panache of avant-garde cinema.

Inception is a clever film that combines summer’s core ingredients of big-budget, star actors, spectacular action sequences and believable effects with the panache of avant-garde cinema. Director Christopher Nolan’s movie gate crashes through the crowded 2010 movie calendar, over populated by sequels, prequels, remakes and adaptations, with a display of sheer originality that has by now become rare in mainstream Hollywood. Constructed atop an intricate plot device that can perhaps only be completely explained with elaborate hand gestures or diagrams, Nolan delivers a sophisticated film that adds yet another title to his impressive film repertoire.

Our protagonist Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) works in the realm of dreams. He plans and executes heists that require breaking into a person’s sub-conscious and stealing their secrets. Separated from his children and on the run from the law, he is offered a passage home by rich businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) in return for a job that requires not stealing, but instead planting an idea into the mind of a rival businessman, Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy). Cobb assembles his team, consisting of a Point-man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an Architect (Ellen Page), a Forger (Tom Hardy) and a Chemist (Dileep Rao) to pull off the seemingly impossible task, while the memory of his deceased wife (Marion Cotillard) haunts his own dreams.

Inception is a demanding movie. Nolan respects the intelligence of his audience by not over-simplifying the plot. The film opens in the middle of an ongoing heist, showing us the machinations of the world inhabited by its characters. It then tutors the audience, via engaging and often times thought provoking dialogue, on the laws of this fantastical world, by way of the training that a new recruit receives. All of this prepping eventually helps us once we are taken on a whirlwind ride through multiple levels of dreams that leaves little time to contemplate on what transpires onscreen, akin to the professionals of Cobb’s team who must use all their training and improvise to survive and succeed in the dynamic world of dreams. Nolan thus structures the plot of Inception around the concept within the movie, not unlike what he had done with two of his previous films, Memento and The Prestige.

While this complexity makes for an enhanced cinematic experience, Inception never loses sight of its objective to entertain. The film contains sequences of visual splendour many of them defying physics in keeping with the theme and setting of the film. It also benefits from a remarkable ensemble performance by the cast, making it difficult to single out any one of them. All of the characters, important as they are, are played with deftness by the actors, each of them bringing a confidence and zeal to the screen. The ingenuity of the plot extends to the locations of the different dream levels in relation to the person dreaming it, as well as to other subtle plot nuances, such as using Édith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” as the song used to synchronize kicks to wake the characters in the real world, slowed down and heard in the dreams as an ominous, trumpeting theme music composed by Nolan regular, Hans Zimmer.

Inception, like The Matrix, can be enjoyed as a summer entertainer – it contains all the required attributes for it. Yet, as was the case with The Matrix, what elevates Inception to excellence are the innumerable ideas that can be stirred up in discerning viewers. Nolan deliberately leaves out a few pieces of the puzzle for viewers to decipher, either through introspection, discussion or debate. Multiple viewings of the film help answer some of the questions, but also raise newer ones, making the joy of discovery a welcome by-product of viewer participation. Although the movie runs for 148 minutes, the experience continues long after the end credits.

Rating: ★★★★½

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.