Thursday, January 27, 2011

Movie Review: Inception

For starters, I’ll tell you right off the bat that “Inception” is a complete and total mindfuck! Blockbuster movies rarely spark real conversation anymore, which is what makes Inception special. You can't walk out of the theatre and say that it sucks, or that it's good. It is too overwhelming for that. It plants a seed. The seed grows. 

By now, you know the basics. Inception deals with a man named Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who can infiltrate the dreams of other people. The purpose for doing so is simple: Powerful men and women have powerful secrets locked away in their minds, and by slipping into a person's dreams it is possible to steal those secrets and sell them. Unsurprisingly, Cobb's talent has landed him into no uncertain amount of trouble: In the United States, where his children live, he is wanted for the murder of his wife, Mal.

A job presents itself that could clear Cobb's name, allowing him to see his kids again. Saito , a Japanese energy magnate, wants Cobb to slip into the dreams of Robert Fisher Jr., who stands to be the heir to his father's energy empire. The thing is, he doesn't want Cobb to steal anything. He wants Cobb to plant a wholly new idea in Fisher's head: That he should sell off his father's empire. This is considerably more difficult, but, given the circumstances, Cobb can't refuse. 

This leads to what is basically a heist movie. Cobb, the old pro, and his trusted associate Arthur put together the kind of crew that can pull off something as complex as giving a person a new idea. Ariadne is the architect, who creates the layout of the world the dream takes place in. Eames is the forger, who can pass himself off for just about anybody the mark knows. Yusuf is the chemist, whose job is twofold. First, he must create something strong enough to put the crew and the mark to sleep for the amount of time necessary to this sort of job. Then, he must create a series of "kicks," which are cues for the crew to wake up. The second part is hardest--if you wake up before or after the kick, you're stranded in limbo, which is raw, untapped subconscious; totally empty dreamspace.

Any further summary of the plot is unnecessary. This is a heist movie, in a way, but one that plays out like a chess match on multiple boards. When one piece is moved, all the pieces on every board are effected. Gravity shifts? Avalanches? Death? It's all part of the plan.

The settings are cold, emotionless, and sterile because the crew is essentially performing brain surgery, which, obviously, is never done on a messy table. Calling the story cold, emotionless, and sterile is another thing entirely. Things go wrong almost the minute everybody slips into Fisher's dream, as he has been intensively trained for dream infiltration, and it appears that Cobb's subconscious has a rather large influence on the dreams that he enters. The way to getting Fisher to sell off his father's company lies in changing the fundamentals of the relationship between the two. The way to achieving that lies in having Cobb confront the guilt he has harbored over his wife's death. Both Cobb and Fisher appear cold, seem emotionless. One is the son of a billionaire whose last words were "disappointed." The other has turned his dreams into a mausoleum for the things he regrets; compartmentalized, hidden away, and threatening to consume him.

Inception is an absolutely brilliant exercise in filmmaking, taking the tropes and rules of the heist movie to an altogether different level. There are some points that annoy and are left open to endless questions, theories and interpretations, but they don't do so to the point of detracting from the overall experience. I would definitely give this movie a thumbs up!

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