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Monday, August 16, 2010

Inception (2010) - Action thiller

Inception (2010) - Spoiler Alert!!! Christopher Nolan can write a good film, there is no doubt about that. Momento, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Night, he has written and directed complex plots with intriguing characters with style and intelligence. Inception his latest film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb a guilt stricken "dream architect". In the world Nolan has created the dreams are the ore to be mined by those with the tools and skills. Cobb and his associates are thieves in this world slipping into the dreams of businessmen and stealing their secrets. The is no doubt this kind of industrial espionage could be valuable but also dangerous. When Cobb fails in a job against powerful businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) he is offered a deal to get out of it. If he works for Saito in doing the hardest of jobs called inception, planting a seed of an idea in a targets head, his life will be spared. More than that Cobb will have murder charges against him dropped so he can return home to the United States and see his kids.
Throughout the film there is the theme of having to take a leap of faith. Cobb has to take a leap of faith in these early scenes, trusting that Saito can take care of his problems even without being certain he will.
Cobb constructs a team to do this job Eames (Tom Hardy), a talented forger and mimic in the dream world where he can impersonate people close to a target to get information. Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) the research partner who learns all the background needed for the job. Ariadne (Ellen Page) the architect for the job, new to the world but a quick learner. She also plays the role of being the person who knows the personal stress that Cobb is going through and voicing the fear that his subconscious could make the mission fail. Also included are Saito and Yusef (Dileep Rao).
The second leap of faith is for us, the audience to take. The leap is that there is a technology that makes the dream interaction function. We are never given much information about how the technology works. We are to just have faith that when the team puts on their wristband attached to the suitcase, and some drugs are used that magically everyone is in the dreams and can interact there. This is what makes this NOT a Science Fiction film. The world although fantastic is really only explained through the interaction of the characters but the technology is ignored.
The secondary story is the personal story of Cobb. He is a former architect who now is having psychological issues. In his early experiments with his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) he was able to get to a deep level of dreaming where she and he created their own little world. In this world where time moved faster than in the real world they lived into old age with his wife, well at least in their heads. When she did not want to leave this world, Cobb planted the seed in her head that the dream world was not real. He got the seed to take and he and Mal came back out of the dream. Problem is that the seed took hold in the real world too and it was a matter of time before Mal committed suicide trying to leave the world she saw as false. She confronts him with taking a leap of faith and dying with her so they again can be in the dream world. Of course his belief that he is in the real world can't let him do that. This guilt has handicapped Cobb to the point where a projection of Mal shows up in his dream work and ruins his jobs. It is bad enough that he needs Ariadne to build the dream maze because since Mal is in his head if he does it she will know all about it too and blow the job for him.
So the team as brilliant and flawed as it is has the job of planting an idea into the dreams of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). It will be a complex job where they will have to go three levels deep. I know you are asking about levels and what the hell I am talking about. Well the movie although the ideas are addressed it is taken as a given that this is how it works. So the characters explain the rules as they go and we all need to take leaps of faith to go on this journey with them. So they will enter the dream of Fischer, where they pretend to kidnap him. Then they take his dream persona into a dream within a dream at a hotel where they pretend to be helping him in a dream. Then some will go into a dream in that dream in a dream where Fischer will open the part of his mind where he holds his secrets. Finally Ariadne and Cobb will dream inside that, the world created by Cobb and his wife and now home to his guilt where we get the big personal reveal and deal with the guilt and Mal with it.
As each level is played out in exciting and adventurous ways everything for the most part is explained in the simplest way possible. Satisfied with it?, eh not so sure about that. When at the end Cobb has dealt with his emotional issues, the seed of an idea has been planted and Saito has called and lifted the charges on Cobb we get a final scene. Cobb gets to go home and see his kids, then Nolan pulls a trick so cheap he should be smacked in the face on sight.
The movie complex in there is a lot going on, is all based on the idea that the audience has to suspend disbelief or it will seem really stupid. It is possible because the action is solid and the ideas just a set of rules thrown out one on top of another every time the team needed something new. We got the first set of rules about the dream intervention, then when they need to create a new crisis they lay out more rules on top of that. Then when things need to be more difficult they tell us about a new dream danger and lay out another set of rules to deal with it. So take your leap of faith!
As an action thriller the film worked and was entertaining. There was a point where the scene cutting between the different levels of dream action was so fast and furious I was just saying to myself that I wished something would end. It got a bit tedious and could have spend up a bit. Still I think the film is well formed for what it was.
Rating (6.3) 5.0 and above is recommended Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Rent it!

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