Saturday, August 14, 2010

INCEPTION (2010)

Written & Directed by Christopher Nolan


Where & When: The Landmark, West Los Angeles, CA. August 2, 2010  7:05PM


"Inception" began as an idea that Christopher Nolan has been working on for many years and after the crazy success of his highly entertaining but slightly over praised, "The Dark Knight", earning Warner Bros. a lot of crazy cash, they were more than willing to take a chance (financially speaking) on Mr. Nolan's interesting but challenging film.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, who is on a mission to extract information from a person's mind by infiltrating their dreams. This is done by the extractors sleeping in close proximity to their target and using a device that will allow them to invade the victim's dream.

Dom's partner, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is with him as they try to steal information from Saito (Ken Wantanabe), a wealthy businessman.

They are caught but it turns out to be a test. Saito wants to hire these men for a job he wants them to try. He wants them to plant an idea deep inside the subconscious of  someone while they sleep, which is called inception but he is doubtful it can be done. Dom tells him that inception can be implemented because he has done it.

The mark is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the son of Saito's business rival, Maurice (Pete Postlethwaite) who is terminally ill. The plan is to plant the idea inside of Robert to break up his father's company so that it does not become a monopoly and threaten Saito's business.

Dom assembles a team to help him with this job: Yusef (Dileep Rao), a chemist who develops heavy sedatives, Eames (Tom Hardy) who has the ability to alter his appearance while in a dream and Ariadne (Ellen Page) a college student who is able to actively build a dream world during the actual dream. Although he has no prior experience, Saito insists on particiating on this job since he is paying for it.

After Maurice Fischer passes away in Sydney, the team arranges to get on Robert's flight back to Los Angeles. They begin the operation during the flight but things don't go according to plan. While in Robert's dream, they attempt to kidnap him but an unplanned armed battle with Robert's mental defenses occurs and Saito gets badly injured in the process. Normally, to end Saito's pain he would have to "die" in the dream to awaken but because of the power of the sedatives used, Saito might not wake up normally but may be put into a type of limbo.

To complicate things further, Dom has a secret involving his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) who he may or may not have been responsible for her death, whose ghost keeps appearing at inopportune times during the dream which could compromise the entire mission.

There is a lot more that goes on in the film that I won't go in to because I don't want to give too much away but also I'm not so sure I could explain it all anyway. I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person but I have to admit that I was having a little difficulty following this film. Now, I understood the main ideas of "Inception" but all of this dream, inside of a dream, inside another dream was just too much mumbo-jumbo for my taste.

I had read one idea somewhere that for older audience members (like myself), "Inception" was more of a challenge to understand than for younger ones because they are more easily able to understand this type of film with dream worlds and multiple storylines because of video games, which I completely agree with this theory. At times during the film, I felt completely lost. Perhaps, as many people have told me, I need to see "Inception" again to get a better idea of what is going on. That may probably be true but the problem is I just can't imagine sitting through this film again for another two and a half hours so that I might have a better grasp of what exactly is going on in this story.

Now, what I really loved about "Inception" were the visuals and this is the only reason why I didn't completely hate this film. The visual effects are done with a minimal amount of computer-generation as possible and are completely breathtaking and innovative. Mr. Nolan has used his long-time team that include cinematographer, Wally Pfister, visual effects supervisor, Paul J. Franklin and editor, Lee Smith who once again helped him create another stunning cinematic vision. I'm very sure you will see this film sweeping the technical awards at next year's Oscars.

I also enjoyed how Mr. Nolan populated "Inception" with actors who are not normally cast in this type of film like Ms Page and Mr.Gordon-Levitt, who are more known for their independent minded films than big-budgeted Hollywood movies. While "Inception" is very far from your typical "Hollywood" summer fare, which in itself is cause for celebration, I think these actors certainly help in giving the film a sense of cool, intelligence and youth which I'm sure was Mr. Nolan's intent but their presence wasn't enough to help me better understand what was going on .

I  really wanted to like "Inception" and while the film's visuals got me hot, the plot left me cold, so I left the theater feeling just lukewarm about the whole thing.