Review: “Inception”

Christopher Nolan dives into the world of dreams.

Tony Libera

âÄúInceptionâÄù Directed by: Christopher Nolan Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Rated: PG-13 Showing at: Area theaters In the long, expansive history of cinema, there are few movies that get inside the mind like âÄúInception.âÄù Fewer still can make the proverbial mindf*** so pleasurable to watch. The film is a true rarity âÄî a summer blockbuster that is both intelligent and action-packed, as visually pleasing as it is psychologically stimulating. âÄúInception,âÄù very broadly (thatâÄôs really the only way to briefly discuss this plot), is the story of Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), an American exile and dream extractor. Essentially, heâÄôs a thief âÄî a bank robber trying to break into the securest of vaults. After botching a mission in Japan, Cobb and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are offered a new job, one that will allow Cobb to finally return to America if he succeeds. The goal is inception, the planting of an idea within a targetâÄôs mind. According to Arthur, this task is impossible, but Cobb believes otherwise. ItâÄôs simply a matter of depth. With that in mind, Cobb leads his team, and the audience, down the rabbit hole, into a dream within a dream within another dream. If it sounds confusing, know that it is. In fact, the first twenty minutes of the film offer almost no solid ground to stand on. Our minds grasp at straws, and our curiosity, along with the phenomenal visuals, rivets us to our seats. When writer/director Christopher Nolan finally lets us catch up, we let out a mixed sigh âÄî happy for some semblance of clarity, knowing full well that itâÄôs about to get much more complicated and licking our chops in anticipation. Make no mistake âÄî the perplexity that arises is not a con. This is a movie that forces you to think, forces you to question every minute detail while it dazzles you with eye candy. Repeat viewing is a must, and even then you wonâÄôt have it all pieced together. Still, youâÄôll enjoy every minute of trying. NolanâÄôs script took the better part of a decade to write, and it shows in the complexity of the storyline. There are so many layers, so many subtle intricacies. ThereâÄôs so much material that Nolan could make thirty movies set in the same universe and never exhaust its possibilities. ItâÄôs a safe bet that he wonâÄôt commit such a crime; the filmâÄôs arc is ideal as is. On the directing front, Nolan again impresses. The scenes between Cobb and his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) are shot wonderfully, highlighting their bond, their tragedy and CobbâÄôs terror. The action sequences are frenetic and visually stunning, and one moment, which I wonâÄôt spoil, is immaculately filmed âÄî this simple shot will undoubtedly inspire endless debate. LetâÄôs backtrack for a moment to the visuals, particularly an inventive hallway fight scene. The battle takes place in a dream, between Arthur and a group of security guards hell-bent on killing him. The Michael Bays and George Lucases of the world would have immediately jumped to CGI, but Nolan had his team build a series of rotating hallways so he could do the scenes for real. The result is one of the coolest-looking fight scenes in film history. âÄúInceptionâÄù is solid on paper, but the quality acting really brings it to life. Leonardo DiCaprio is as slick as he is poignant, showing why he continues to be the go-to superstar for contemporary auteurs. Marion Cotillard artlessly evokes pity, love and fear in her various incarnations of Mal. Tom Hardy, who plays team member Eames , brings a bit of levity to an otherwise serious film. Joseph Godron-Levitt is surprisingly stiff as Arthur, but the aforementioned fight scene gives him enough badass cred to make up for it. On every level, âÄúInceptionâÄù is an enthralling film. ThereâÄôs plenty of uncertainty when all is said and done, but thatâÄôs to be admired and enjoyed. All the ambiguity does leave an aftertaste, one that harks back to Homer SimpsonâÄôs immortal words, âÄúI think I brained my damage.âÄù 4/4 Stars