Inception Review

Ok, just saw the movie Inception tonight. Here is a quick review.

First of all, this has probably been the most anticipated movie for me this summer. I for one am sick to the back teeth of the lack of originality in movies over the last several years, so I was pretty excited to see something fresh coming out that looked interesting. I know that the cost of creating any movie is stupidly expensive. I think this is primarily the reason that Hollywood resorts to “safe bets” such as remakes, adaptations, and sequels. I saw the previews for Inception, and was nicely surprised to see that a big budget film with a high profile director and A list actors was coming out that had none of the above attached to it. Don’t get me wrong, a movie does not need these things to be great. My point is, that I appreciated the risk taking by the studios on this one.

First off, the theater was pretty much full. We almost always go to the matinées on the weekends to save a few bucks, so a nearly full audience at 3:25 PM on a Saturday was a bit of a surprise. There  was a real mix of a crowd too. Young, old, male, and female were all pretty equally represented.

So here is a quick breakdown of the movie.

A technology exists called shared dreaming. It’s a method by where multiple people can share the dream of a single person. Not too much information is given about this technology such as how it was created, who created it and for what purpose. If it’s intent was benign, what it is being used for is much more nefarious. The idea has become that since your conscious defenses are lessened during your dream state, you are more apt to divulge information about what you may know even if you know you shouldn’t. This leaves the door open for others to invade your dreams, and steal your ideas or secrets. This is called an Extraction. Companies and governments pay big money for this, and they don’t take failure lightly.

The scenario consists of a few main players, and some lesser ones.

  1. The Architect. This is the person who creates the framework of the dream. They know the layout, and they control the look and feel of the dream.
  2. The Extractor. This is the person who steals the idea or secret. Everyone’s job is to support this person.
  3. The Forger. This person can impersonate anyone in the dream.
  4. The Point Man. This person is more or less the the watch out or you could even consider the liaison between the dream states (awake or otherwise).
  5. The Mark. This is the person they are going after.

Shared dreaming is addictive. None more so than for The Architect. A 100% pure creation environment where the rules of everyday do not apply. It’s not that they don’t have consequences though. Manipulation of the environment can lead to states of lucid dreaming, causing The Mark to realize that they are in fact dreaming, and his or her sub-conscious begins to defend itself. Violently if necessary.

This aspect of the movie alone is brilliant,and provides solid doses of Matrix style action, while avoiding becoming a focal point of the film. When creating an environment devoid of rules or constraints, you can fall into “easy outs” in the story.  In a tight spot? Simply throw a car out of your way. This would be something that lesser filmmakers might do. Christopher Nolan is not a lesser filmmaker. By introducing counter measures and other cause and effect actions to the dream state, it forces the script to behave in ways that lend more credibility to the story,and it’s overall effectiveness.

The acting is what we have come to expect from a Christopher Nolan movie. It’s top notch. He gets a lot of mileage from the range of the people employed to bring the story to life. Leonardo DiCaprio does an excellent job as Cobb, the story’s focal character. Cobb is an Extractor. The best in the world. We learn more about him than any other character by far.

The short story on Cobb, is that he has been accused of something terrible, and he cannot go home because of it. His last job has been offered by a man who claims he can fix this. But the final job is different than the others. Instead of extracting a secret from The Mark, he has to implant an idea in his head that when he wakes up, he will believe that it is his own idea and will act on it. This is called Inception. In order to do this, the dream needs to be several layers deep, so when they wake up, the idea leaves no trace of it’s origin.

It’s this area that creates the most demands on the viewer. This isn’t a movie that you can simply throw your brain into neutral, and do no thinking. You might even say that it’s a movie that you cannot even go to the bathroom or get concessions during it because you will miss something that will be important later. Things can seem a bit disjointed during the first and second acts, but in the final act, all of that knowledge pays off as you see how everything links together. Why is it important to not bring personal memories into a shared dream? You’re going to find out. Why is it important for The Extractor to not know the layout of the dream as created by The Architect? You’ll find that out too. All of this and more.

We won’t even cover the ending. That’s a whole different blog post in and of itself.

3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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