Georgie and I saw “Inception” Sunday, August 1, and we have to agree it is the best science fiction movie of the year so far.
There are few films I have seen that I thought really required the medium of film to be realized, or that I did not think I could have imagined as well from a novel or story. “Inception” is one of those rare films, not just for the audacity of its visual design, in particular the dizzying dreamscapes, but also for the interleaving of the action between different levels of dreaming which makes up much of the latter part of the movie.
Leonard DiCaprio plays Cobb, a professional industrial spy, perpetually on the run from both the law and various sets of corporate goons (whether they are all disappointed clients, or some are angry targets, is, like much of the film, left ambiguous). After a failed attempt to extract information from corporate boss Saito (Ken Watanabe), Saito recruits Cobb for the proverbial “last big job” that will clear his name and let him go home again.
After that the plot structure follows the classic “caper movie” plot, as Cobb assembles a new team and plans the run on corporate heir Robert Fisher (Cillian Murphy) to implant, as opposed to extract, the idea that will save Saito’s business. Where things get weird is the plotting involving levels of dreaming and dreams within dreams necessary to make the task work.
The job is made more difficult and dangerous by Cobb’s personal demon—the image of his deceased wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) who literally haunts Cobb’s subconscious and hampers his effectiveness in the dream worlds.
Of course the “caper” part of the operation does not go smoothly (do they ever?) and the expertise of Cobb and his team is tested to the max as they improvise new plans. In parallel, we learn the back story of Cobb and Mal and why she haunts him.
With a plot this complex it’s inevitable that some plot holes will creep in, and some do, but not so intrusively that they are a huge problem. The deliberate ambiguity about what is real is far more engrossing.
DiCaprio is well supported by his team, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as the competent but unimaginative Arthur, Tom Hardy as Eames the chameleon, and Ellen Page as Ariadne, the gifted newcomer who gets drawn most deeply into the dream worlds and Cobb’s problems.
All in all, a most interesting and involving movie, although the violence level is high, even in dreams.
Spoileriffic questions behind the cut:
If “dropping” the van in the first dream level would serve as a “kick” to bring the dreamers up from lower levels, why didn’t rolling the van?
Why are gravity shifts from the first level felt in the second level, but not in the third?
Why is Ariadne who is so worried about Cobb’s problems, so willing to follow him nevertheless?
If Mal actually woke up to “reality” instead of dying, why didn’t she “kick” Cobb to wake him up once she was there?