A heist film wrapped with multiple dreams, so many in fact, that there has been much debate if the top-level, the main reality of the film itself, is a dream. To support this there is much discussion of the character’s totems, an individual item they carry around with them that is uniquely theirs, one they know intimately, and one that confirms their reality by its weight, feel and behavior.
I love this movie, and it was great to revisit it thanks to the Sci-Fi Chronicles book. Leonardo DiCaprio leads an all-star cast that includes Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger.
DiCaprio is Cobb, a uniquely trained thief that corporations hire to infiltrate other people’s dreams and steal their secrets. Now, he’s been offered a chance to clear up his record, and be able to return to America and his two children… if he can plant an idea into a subject’s head, and have it come to play. This is called Inception. But it’s difficult to implant an idea and have it grow, and the subject has to believe the idea was his own…
What follows is a brilliantly crafted film, probably one of my favorite Nolan films of all of his work, that balances action beats, multiple dream levels, and masquerades as a straight out blockbuster, while ruminating on the nature of reality.
Nolan always populates his films with the best actors for the job, and this time is no different, every performance is note perfect, and exposition, of which there is a lot, is handled smoothly and ably, never slowing down the pacing of the film. And this one, despite clocking in at 148 minutes doesn’t let up from the get-go.
The special and visual effects, incredibly important in a film like this, serve the story, never taking away from the characters and action, simply expanding on it. Watching Page’s Ariadne walk around the dream world and creating new locations, doesn’t shatter belief in the world at all, you simply marvel at what is happening…
And when they have to go deeper than they’ve gone before to implant an idea, there are multiple levels, time dilation, and multiple action sequences, the hallway scene is a prime example of the masterful camerawork, in-camera and special effects.
I don’t want to talk to much about it, in case, after 5 years, there is still someone out there who hasn’t seen it, but next time you do watch it, pay attention to the totems, and pay attention to what is said about them… It implies that not everything is as it seems.
There isn’t a single thing I don’t enjoy about this film, Zimmer’s score, the script, the performances, Nolan is at the top of his game on this one!
What’s your favorite Nolan film?