Inception Film Review

Inception: Jospeh Gordon-Levitt and Leo DiCaprio

Release Date (UK) – 16th July 2010
Certificate (UK) – 12A
Country – USA
Director – Christopher Nolan
Runtime – 148 mins
Starring – Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy

With a marketing campaign and trailer that revealed little about the content of Inception, it’s a tricky film to review without giving away slight spoilers so for the most enjoyable cinema experience I’d stop reading now and simply get down to your nearest cinema to watch this complex and mind-boggling film.

While a date is not mentioned, Inception‘s story presumably takes place some time in the near future, where a technological development has led to a way for people to share dreams using elaborate machinery. Cobb (DiCaprio) and Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) are for-hire contractors who use this technology to illegally break into peoples dreams and extract their secrets. Cobb is also on the run, exiled from the States for unexplained reasons so when client Saito (Ken Watanabe) proposes a complex job involving not just stealing someone’s secrets in a dream, but actually placing the seeds of an idea in their mind in the dream, aka ‘Inception’, in return for a free pass to America he agrees to the job. Cobb recruits a team to help him, including dream-world architect Adriane (Ellen Page), master forger Eames (Tom Hardy) and sedative chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao).

Inception doesn’t get bogged down in the detail of how the shared dreaming process works, which could be frustrating but the multi-layered plot and worlds of dreams-within-dreams make it so complex that any further details would make it almost incomprehensible. The original story alone makes it a worthwhile trip to the cinema, but this is certainly not a light or easy film to watch. The boundaries of reality and fiction are time and time again blurred, and there are a few subtle twists in the plot which add an extra layer of confusion, making Inception a film you’ll want to watch over and over to try and fully understand it.

Inception: Ellen Page

Apart from the occasionally wooden Ellen Page the acting in Inception is great quality, and there’s some lovely comic scenes between Gordon-Levitt and Hardy. DeCaprio seems to be taking on more and more serious film roles and he really does excel in them, combining a serious portrayal of drama with a romance story that now seems obligatory for a DeCaprio film. Even the brief roles are played by great serious actors, with a cast including Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard. The orchestral score (by Hans Zimmer of Gladiator and Lion King fame) is also a perfect accompaniment, creating great tension and atmosphere but also remaining silent in the right places.

However Inception is far from perfect. I’m not a particular fan of Christopher Nolan’s previous films and why he felt the need to inject occasional fight sequences escapes me: the film would have worked perfectly well as a thrilling drama. In particular the corridor fight scene has been done to death, and although Nolan’s use of a lack of gravity is a slight thematic change there’s nothing unique in these bland choreographed fights between Arthur and some dream projections. There is also a great similarity to Scorsese’s Shutter Island, where DiCaprio’s role is frustratingly identical: a mysterious back-story emerges about a wife and children with some far-too obvious plot turns involving them.

However these are small flaws in a film that is an exception to the clichéd and safe plots that Warner Brothers normally churn out, and certainly the most challenging and though provoking film of the summer so far. An absolute must-see.

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