Christopher Nolan just might be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. With this, his seventh feature film, Nolan has demonstrated that the sheer quality and absolute ingenuity that are the makeup of all his cinematic works are currently—and perhaps even ultimately—peerless. Even more so with this current masterpiece, the writer/producer/director takes viewers on an incredibly thrilling, terse, and psychological ride from which we may or may not actually emerge after the screen goes black—and it is this uncertain and yet completely spellbinding journey across the dreamscape that Inception is that makes for the most truly original motion picture in years.
While it wouldn’t really be possible to describe in-detail what happens in this movie even if I tried, I will do my best to sum up the gist of it. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cob, a highly specialized thief in what is presumably our future world. (That small but crucial detail in itself—that it is nearly impossible to tie the story down to a certain time and place—is incredible and devilishly conceived.) What Cob and his faithful ‘crew’ regularly steal are nothing less than the deepest and darkest secrets of the human mind, all via an astounding and dangerous technology that allows them to invade and become active, independent parts of other peoples’ dreams. When a powerful businessman makes Cob an offer he literally cannot refuse, the game is on, and the prize is nothing less than completion of the titular act—the presumably never-before accomplished feat of planting a notion in the mind of an invaded subject and succeeding in getting said victim’s subconscious to believe and act as if the idea were wholly its own.
Sound confusing? It is at first; but as with Nolan’s other mind-game movies, the fuzzy picture becomes clearer and clearer as the plot rolls steadily on, and the stunning, surreal imagery that accompanies the story progression is dually breathtaking and disconcertingly dark—just as is the content of any real-world dream that moves unexpectedly. Also top-notch here is the acting from a star-studded ensemble cast, and supporting players Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page (the latter successfully breaking away from her Juno stereotype) are particularly believable and excellently placed. Hans Zimmer’s score is also mind boggling, and just like the film’s look, is a constantly shifting limbo of haunting and beautiful themes that stick you long after the ‘dream’ is over.
There literally isn’t anything nagative I can say about this one, and I humbly offer that anyone who enjoys film should see this instant classic… and then join the rest of us in trying to solve what will no doubt become a dissected, long debated over, and imitated but never duplicated master-work puzzle of the silver screen. As in each of our own dreams, the answer is probably just beyond the fold of our admittedly limited line-of-sight, yet that perpetual chase alone makes the experience worth living over and again.
Reviewer’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars