directed by Christopher Nolan
(Warner Bros., 2010)

A decade ago, this film would've impressed the hell out of me.

But Inception is too little, too late, although writer/director Christopher Nolan is obviously in love with his own cleverness.

The tale is set within a dream within a dream within a dream, and maybe more layers Nolan's not telling us about. In the world of Inception, it's possible to invade people's dreams and steal ideas from them; Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is tasked with invading a dream and placing an idea there, which is a much more difficult proposition.

To do the job, he assembles a team of experts that includes an architect (Ellen Page), a chemist (Dileep Rao) and a thief (Tom Hardy), as well as his top researcher and assistant (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the man who, if Cobb is successful, can make all his problems go away (Ken Watanabe). Their target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), whose global energy consortium is growing too large for some people's comfort. But introducing a thought into Fischer's well-protected subconscious mind involves more than a little preparation, including map-making and landscape engineering, personality prototypes, chemically induced snoozefests, a lot of guns, zero-gravity combat skills and a passport to America.

Meanwhile, Cobb's own dreams are constantly invaded by the apparition of his wife (Marion Cotillard), who proves a diligent nemesis to his every move.

In this multi-layered story, the viewer is never sure what to believe. Once the movie starts playing with our perception of realities, everything we see is suspect; unfortunately for Nolan, we've all seen movies like The Matrix and The Sixth Sense, so we already know to be on our guard and doubt everything.

Be that as it may, Inception boasts some truly astounding visual effects and altered perspectives, from a hotel brawl in free-fall to the sight of Paris folding in on itself. Navigating the many layers of dream is tricky stuff, for us as well as Cobb and his team, and perhaps the movie is best enjoyed if you don't spend too much effort analyzing the logic. Just accept Nolan's vision and enjoy the ride. Flaws notwithstanding, Inception is worth a few hours of your time. By the end, however, you might not be entirely sure how you spent it.

review by
Tom Knapp

28 August 2010

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