Inception (with Leonardo DiCaprio)
As the final, brilliant shot closed the movie, I and a theater full of about 350 other patrons, yelled out at the screen at the same time. I obviously can’t remember every movie going experience in my life, but I can’t remember ever reacting so passionately to the end of a movie than what I did with INCEPTION. But it wasn’t just the ending, it was the flawless execution of the previous 2.5 hours that had so entranced me that I was completely engrossed in the world Christopher Nolan had created that I forgot for a moment where I was. That’s how great this film is and it doesn’t begin to do it justice.
If you’re like me, then you may not have any clue what the movie is about from watching the previews. The intricacies of the plot could take a whole novel to explain, but the gist is that the film takes place in an age where it’s possible for people to merge into your dreams while you’re asleep. There’s a whole process for this to take place and once it happens, the intruders can extract your darkest secrets or, in this case, plant an idea in your head to make you think it’s your own (called “inception”). Our hero, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is leading a team of extractors on a job for Saito (Ken Watanabe), who wants to get rid of his biggest competitor. In order to do this, Cobb and his team have to do an inception into Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) mind and that’s where the action takes place. In order to pull it off, they not only have to infiltrate his dreams, but they have to devise a plan to have dreams within dreams.
If it doesn’t make sense, don’t worry; it’s not supposed to make sense on paper. I too was lost, even during the film and then I realized that the confusion was intentional. As we’re learning exactly what this dream invasion is, Nolan is interweaving an incredibly engaging story between Cobb and his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) and another one between Fishcer and his recently deceased father. Discovering what all of these storylines mean and how they fit together is part of the joy of the film. Before I even talk about the action scenes, these two character driven storylines are so well developed and involved that they could have carried their own film. And to think these were subplots in a summer action movie is mind-blowing.
As great as the character plots were, the moneymaker for this film are the action scenes. There are more than a couple of exciting moments, but Nolan has crafted the greatest intertwined action sequence in the history of film. It’s tough to explain, but imagine the best, most well crafted, intense sequence in film that you can think of; maybe the bank robbery scene in HEAT or your favorite Jedi battle. Now take that scene and imagine three of those scenes, all intertwined and connected, happening simultaneously, with the same characters and lasting about 45 minutes or longer. Each shot, each scene topping the other as far as intensity and greatness and every time you think you know what’s about to happen, something different happens…for 45 minutes. The best movies are lucky to pull that off once over a course of five minutes and INCEPTION keeps throwing it at you for the entire third act.
Someone asked me if I thought Leonardo DiCaprio would get an Oscar nomination for this and I said no. It’s not because he’s not deserving, because he definitely is. The problem is that he pulls off the conflicted, tortured hero character so effortlessly that we take him for granted. But he added a depth to Cobb that made the audience care about his every action. The film would have been great without Leo, but he elevated it to a whole new level. Everyone was fantastic in this film, but it was Leo’s movie and he did an amazing job.
Time will eventually tell just how great INCEPTION is and whether it will achieve the critical and commercial acclaim I believe it deserves. But I can tell you this; I don’t give 10/10 ratings on movies very freely. I would bestow that honor on about 10 movies ever made and none in the past 10 years. To be fair, I don’t really want to give INCEPTION a 10 either, but I have to, only because I can’t give it an 11.