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Christopher Nolan's Inception is a film which seems to have been dividing opinions this summer.  Fashionably late as always, the Bee takes a gander.  Our reviewer is Rhys Jones.

The idea that drives Inception is the concept of the invasion of dreams. Invading the dreams of their victims, 'extractors' are able to glean precious secrets from the subject. Dom Cobb is such a man, and with the help of his team, he is one of the best in the dream-invasion field. Cobb and his crew hook themselves up to their subjects with wires, and together they infiltrate the subconsciousness of their victims.

Hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe), a wealthy businessman, they have been tasked with implanting ('incepting') an idea into the head of Robert Fischer (Cilian Murphy), who is set to inherit his father's multinational business empire. But the 'inception' of ideas is a whole lot harder, and involves many levels of dream states. And the more levels, the more is at stake, and Cobb is withholding vital information; information that could sabotage the whole operation....

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, Inception is an amazing, heart-stopping multi-genre film that manages to combine sci-fi, action and thriller into one, gratifying cinema experience.

Unlike many contemporary action-come-thrillers, Inception is very much about the characters. It's not often you come across such a wide-variety of different characters in one film, and even less often is the main character so deep and so well performed that you really come to understand and connect with him. DiCaprio has done a magnificent job of bringing Cobb to life, and Inception proves that he is a great actor who deserves the recognition of winning an Oscar for his contribution to this film.

It's not only DiCaprio who inhabits his character with such distinction, though. The whole cast, many of whom have collaborated with Christopher Nolan before (including Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy, who both starred in Batman Begins) manage to take up their roles perfectly, fitting them like well-tailored after-dinner jackets. The Canadian actress, Ellen Page, who, at 23, already has numerous films under her belt, is really convincing as a young woman who is involved, not by choice, in such a large scale, illegal operation.

At this point, I should probably say something about Christopher Nolan, who I'm sure many know for directing the two Batman films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Nolan is responsible for the concept of the film, which he wrote and directed himself, around the notion of “exploring the idea of people sharing a dream space — entering a dream space and sharing a dream”. Originally wanting Inception to be a horror film, he later changed his mind as horror films are traditionally very emotionally lacking, and he wanted to “raise the emotional stakes”. Nolan's screenwriting skills seem as accomplished as his directing skills, as Inception really does piece together in a very cinematic way.

The cinematography is perfectly executed; shot on film rather than digitally, every scene is beautiful in it's own right, and wonderfully lit. Action is caught perfectly, without too much wobble, and the score, written by the popular composer Hans Zimmer, ups the tension greatly. The visual effects are fantastic, and some will surprise you to know that they didn't involve CGI.

So, when everything is added up, what is the result? Well, it is something that should not be missed. Both intellectually gratifying and full of action, this tense piece of film-making involves the viewer, where other films only command you to be a spectator. Going to the cinema without being prepared to think is a bad idea, as Inception requires you to think, and grasp at ideas that are complicated but also wonderfully thought-provoking. Anyone who thinks Inception is a nice film to watch on a Saturday evening, a film to switch off to, again I say this is a bad idea; not only does the viewer need to be involved with the film, but the memorable action scenes will manage to keep your heart rate at a constant high. Inception is both visually and intellectually stunning, and is sure to be one of the best films of the coming years.

Exiting the cinema and stepping into the warm, autumnal sun is like waking from a dream.

Rhys Jones's book reviews can be read at his own site, Thirst for Fiction.


Jeremy said...

Inception struck every note perfectly, and is by far the best film of 2010 so far - though you do need to watch it a couple of times to fully understand each detail. The tension just ratchets up and up and up for the second half of the film, and it's easy to miss a few important details. But like a good book, it gains something with every new reading, and details you thought were throwaways fit into a coherent whole.

Tony Ellis called it "the Matrix for grown-ups."

agorton79 said...

I agree completely, a fantastic film on several levels, both cerebral and action packed, with some amazing visuals, although as Jeremy has said, it requires repeat viewing to understand and appreciate fully. And what an ending! Very ambiguous!

The way the concept of lucid dreams is explored is very good. There was one part of the film the the protagonists visit a cellar full of sleepers, who willingly live in their dreams. As one character says, its their real world, our world is the dream. Very thought provoking!

Steve R. said...

I have to agree. Inception was fantastic. However, I do know people who found the over explanation throughout the film annoying.

Nathan L said...

I've heard about this film, though haven't seen it yet. A rented video will have to suffice.

It sounds rather like the BFG by Roald Dahl. All writers are tea leaves. :)

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