Inception: \in-‘sep-sh n\ noun: An act, process, or instance of beginning; commencement.
The definition of “inception” according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, and the title of Christopher Nolan’s (“The Dark Night”) latest psychological masterpiece, leaves a lot to be explained. What are we embarking on exactly, and what do we hope to find there?
When we think of “inception” in terms of Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film, this “instance of beginning” is about raising the bar for what we can expect from a cinematic experience from this point forward. No, not the increased use of 3-D, IMAX, or other corny gimmicks that have been sweeping films of the last decade and beyond. It’s about the fact that we deserve a movie that chills us with its originality and finally gives us a breathtaking example of the places movies can go. “Inception” is the beginning of what we can only hope is a smarter Hollywood. A new and improved Hollywood that isn’t afraid to take risks and dive into difficult concepts, not only grabbing our attention, but demanding it. Nolan has continuously impressed us with his mind-bending and rule-breaking films such as “Memento,” but this time he’s really outdone himself.
The beauty behind “Inception” started from its very beginning, from the intentionally ambiguous trailers to the rumors that body guards stood watch while actors read their lines from secret scripts on set. The few glimpses of the film trailer we were given showed massive buildings folding up into each other and slow-motion destruction exploding around two people sitting in a café market, giving no real indication of a defined plot. Even the trailers were unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and with Christopher Nolan’s name attached, along with the do-no-wrong track record Leonardo DiCaprio is compiling, anticipation for the film only grew as people itched to know the secrets. “Inception” is everything we expected, and more.
The secrecy behind the film is part of the beauty of it, and so this review will give away as little as possible in order to maintain this brilliant mystery. Few movies will continue to impress you beyond the initial hope that it might be as good as it seems, but “Inception” grips you and doesn’t let you go, leaving you speechless.
Leonardo DiCaprio (“Shutter Island”) plays the role of Cobb — a man with the technology and skill to go inside your dreams to manipulate and steal your thoughts and ideas. The terminology behind the “dream-stealing” concept was a bit heavy for the first twenty minutes of the film, but as Cobb begins training the young Ariadne as part of their team, played with subtle sophistication by Ellen Page (“Whip It”), we become engrossed in the originality once again through the film’s illustration of her training and naivety. From the first half hour onward, every scene takes you deeper into the convoluted labyrinth of the plot, twisting and turning, continuously surprising and shocking you with its creativity.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a total scene stealer as Cobb’s right hand man, Arthur, and although he isn’t as pivotal to the plot as Cobb or Ariadne, the special effects sequences he’s involved in (think anti-gravity, slow motion Matrix moves) are absolutely spectacular. It’s nice to see a guy who went from an adorable nerd in “10 Things I Hate About You,” to an indie darling in “500 Days of Summer” not only carry his own in a Hollywood Blockbuster, but shine just as brightly as Leonardo DiCaprio.
Despite the exceptional special effects and visionary ideas behind “Inception,” Leonardo DiCaprio never picks a film without a bit of heart and soul to it, and “Inception” is no different. Cobb’s back-story is touching and emotional, but it’s a bit too reminiscent of his recent blockbuster, “Shutter Island.” Now before you spoiler police start labeling me and heading to the comment box as you are wont to do, there is far more to his character’s story than investigator Teddy Daniels in “Shutter Island.” However, with the two movies so close to one another, it’s difficult not to note the similarities between the two.
From fight scenes on the ceiling to freighter trains barreling down city streets, “Inception” is “James Bond” meets “Matrix” in an intelligent and ingenious new way. This is what we’ve been waiting for all summer — Hell, all year. It is epic, smart, original and it makes your brain hurt. In those final moments when the credits roll and you can finally breath again, “Inception” leaves you reeling with the thought that there is hope for Hollywood. And Chris Nolan has set some pretty high standards.