Movie Review: “Inception”

By  | 

Inventive and imaginative… it’s breathtakingly brilliant! It’s the kind of conception that can only come from a mastermind such as Christopher Nolan.

“Inception” lives up to its heightened expectations and more. Just like “The Dark Knight,” Nolan takes it to the next level and surpasses it.  And I’ve got to hand it to Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s played a pivotal role in “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Shutter Island,” and now he can add “Inception” to his impressive body of work.

The vision, plot, characters, set design, special effects, visuals, and score come together like a grand symphony led by an expert conductor. Its dreamlike storytelling is hypnotic; it draws you in and not only keeps you in that world till the end, but it still leaves intrigue that leaves it open for interpretation.

DiCaprio (Dom Cobb) leads his team of extractors, specializing in invading people’s dreams and extracting their ideas and secrets. The team is composed of protege-architect Ariadne (Ellen Page) who constructs dreams, second-hand man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who monitors the process, shape-shifting Eames (Tom Hardy) who can place himself in a dream and morphs into anyone, and chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) who finds a way to induce simultaneous jolt out of the dreamers from the slumber state. If you wonder what Page is doing in this eclectic, but decidedly “adult” ensemble, halfway through the film it’s clear why she’s chosen. She’s a real standout in this role.

The plan is to pull off one last heist for a mysterious magnate Saito (Ken Watanabe), who can place a phone call to clear Cobb’s name as a murderer so that he can return to the United States and reunite with his kids. Unlike all the other extractions, this project requires him to do the opposite; plant an idea in a tycoon’s heir’s mind. The plan is to implant Robert (Cillian Murphy) with the idea to break up his belated father’s empire.

Insanely intense, “Inception’s” multi-dimensions commands your full focus to decipher each dimension of complexity. In order for an idea to be planted successfully, it has to grow organically in the mind and consume that person. And what makes it complicated is that certain people have natural defenses that would reject this invasion of the mind.

“Inception” takes us into abstract worlds beyond imagination. You step into different levels of subconscious hidden behind the dreams within dreams. The further you go into the dream state, the more risk it carries. In the extraction project, if one dies, one would wake up from the dream. In the plantation project, however, it’s a whole different rule. One could enter the limbo stage –a nightmarish dream state where you can be trapped for decades.

The realm of dreams (or nightmares) is naturally entrancing. I’ve had lucid dreams where I’d remember that I’m in a dream. I’ve had a series of dreams where the next dream would pick up exactly where it leaves off in different times. What strikes a cord is that we don’t know how we end up in our dreams; we just arrive there and everything feels so real.

What would happen if you woke up but felt like the “real world” was still a dream?  What would happen if you began to question our existence? What would you do if you truly didn’t know which world was reality because they both felt equally real? And if you could choose, would you rather live if a wonderful world of lies if it’s better than reality?

The heartwrenching backstory hauntingly reveals the depth of Cobb’s relationship with his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) and why he can’t design the labyrinth of the dreams himself. He even can’t allow himself to know the ins and outs of the construction for a certain reason. Powerfully chilling scenes provoke the mind and evoke strong emotions.

Visuals like inversely perpendicular city blocks and structures, mirrored gates, crumbling cliff walls, rising bridges, tumbling bases, gravity shifting, watery destructions, and fiery explosions are surreally realistic. The zero-gravity floating and fighting sequences, with an ominously glorious score playing in the background, are nothing short of mesmerizing: parallel levels of dream worlds crisscrossed with simultaneous movements; floating, falling, breaking, chasing, exploding; slow and agonizing moments are juxtaposed with fast and furious ones.

Through its mind-bending and time-twisting dream sequences, “Inception” deals with reality, guilt, forgiveness and redemption. It’s a thinker’s film that packs as much punch as an action movie. An amazingly ambitious film, “Inception” is one-of-a-kind.

Copyright (c) 2010.  Nathalia Aryani

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *