Christopher Nolan has solidified himself as one of Hollywood’s premier storytellers. His reinvention of Batman put him on the short list, for at least those who never had the pleasure of seeing “Memento”, and his second act of “A Dark Knight” secured his position. How does one follow such a success? Inception, by definition, means a beginning. If this is still just the beginning for Nolan, audiences beware.
From start to finish, “Inception” holds the attention of the viewer and never allows it to slip. Many films that achieve this do so with strong plot, great special effects or gifted acting but rarely by combining all three. The story is among Nolan’s finest, and he never allows the special effects to become more a character than the actors. To boot, Nolan’s reputation simply beckons to actors, and indeed some familiar faces make appearances: Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy. Fresh faces to Nolan’s crew though, really create the eccentric atmosphere.
Leonardo DiCaprio, taking a break from working with Martin Scorsese, is at the top of his game. He has once again tapped into some inner demons. In the prime of his acting career, Leo seems able to snatch up intense role after intense role. While his performance certainly makes the film, he is surrounded by quality actors, creating an exceptional ensemble. Most notable here would be Joseph Gordon-Levitt who may still be best known for leading the Angels in the Outfield but has emerged in recent years as a credible dramatic performer.
It is hard not to compare the new to the old. When the most recent offering is a film like “The Dark Knight”, the bar starts out pretty high indeed. Though “Inception” will likely fall short in box office revenue to Nolan’s billion dollar predecessor, it may have a chance at winning over the hearts of more critics and garnering more awards. The award’s season is still just a glimmer in the distance, but Nolan has struck gold again with his ability to re-imagine.
As unique as the plot may appear from the trailers, “Inception” is still a “heist” film, with DiCaprio leading the crew. Instead of taking something valuable, his is leaving something behind, and instead of breaking into a physical place, his is delving deep into another’s mind. Yes, the plot can be confusing, but Nolan has constructed the film well enough as to give the viewer time to digest each complexity before the next one arises, enough so that the viewer never loses interest out of ignorance.
Stripped down, the plot is actually quite simple. DiCaprio is hired to implant an idea into the head of a young corporate CEO. He is chosen for this job because he spends his days infiltrating the minds of men to steal their secrets. Why not just leave something behind instead?
Of course, leaving behind an idea (inception) is not so simple. In order for it to hold, the person must truly believe it is his own idea. Enter levels of consciousness and various layers of self-awareness and one can see how easily the story can become convoluted. Nolan takes the viewer on this journey at a quick pace to not only keep the energy of the film alive but to allow just enough time to understand without time to question. So by the time the credits roll, all the questions have been answered even if the viewer hardly had time to ask.