Directed By: Christopher Nolan Released: July 16, 2010
I remember seeing Inception in theaters a decade ago. Crazy how time flies. So many things have changed in my life. High School, going to college, multiple jobs, friends have come and go, and I started this site. One thing that has stayed consistent is just how much I love this film. I would still say that this is Nolan’s masterpiece. There is a good argument for The Dark Knight, but that is based on an existing property. This was Nolan wanting to show off a cool concept and show it off well. Inception is so well constructed, cast, and knows exactly when to break up intense action with comedy. All around interesting characters and motivations. And with his latest film, Tenet, coming to theaters soon, this is the best time to talk about why I love Inception.
I think it’s a safe bet that most of you reading this have already seen Inception at some point. It was recognized as an incredible film when it was released. But if you haven’t…then stop reading and go watch it. I mean it, halt your process currently and gather your friends, family, pets, or local homeless population to sit down and watch it with you. No one will reject your offer. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Nice pause for you few who need it. Now, all done? Are the credits rolling? Excellent, then you are pumped to read why I love it too. Glad you can join us. You probably understand a lot more about pop culture from the past decade now. It has influenced much of the mindset of other films that have tried to capture just a bit of the magic Nolan created. But how did he make such an insane idea such as dream hopping so easy to follow and interesting consistantly?
It starts right at the beginning. It is a small look as to how well structured the film is, so follow along with me. We first meet our main character, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), washed up on a beach. He is taken up to a nearby building by guards, who inform their boss of the intruder. The old man, feeble from age, sees the younger man dragged in and is presented with two items, a gun and a toy top. He holds the top, then spins it. He tells his guest that he met him before, but as much younger men. Suddenly, a flashback to the same two individuals plus another in a meeting, but the old man is now much younger…but the other man is the same age. Cobb is pitching a business deal, that he can protect the client from information stealing within dreams by teaching him how to defend himself. All of this is good set up, as later he realizes that all of this was a dream to begin with. But what is important is the idea that someone could be taught how to protect their dreams. Later in the film during the real mission, the target has “projections” that are protecting him from the intruders of the dream. They don’t need to explain how this is possible, the interaction from earlier in the film informs us how it can happen. But also those two scenes are flashbacks in themselves They bookend the movie, you just have to watch for the clues.
Every single talent on board excels. I don’t know if it was the directing talents of Nolan or the combined charisma on screen, perhaps it’s both. DiCaprio shines, of course, but it’s his attitude towards his companions that allows the film the move so effortlessly. Right away the chemistry with Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stands out. The two naturally play off of each other, a level of respect between them. Cobb doesn’t want Arthur to see his bad side, only allowing Ariadne (Ellen Page) to understand the deeper workings of his mind. To lighten the somber mood surrounding the mission, Eames the forger (Tom Hardy) is always ready with a well timed quip. Combined with Yusuf the chemist (Dileep Rao) and the client Saito (Ken Watanabe) the team is able to infiltrate the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and plant the Inception. This cast works effortlessly together and has the dynamic to carry the third act of the film after the team is assembled.
While all those pieces work together to make the film great, it is in its very concept that pulls the audience in. The entire idea of being able to not only control your dreams, but to also gather information from someone’s dream is so cool. This is also where I have the one problem I have with it. Granted there is a decade of hindsight, can’t fault this film for that. But the third layer of the dream they enter is really just a Call of Duty level. Snow base with a bunch of guards you have to get past. Where as the first two layers have an actual mission they had to work their way through using a different member of the teams specialty, the third is just “shoot the guards, get to the thing.” Kinda boring compared to the rest. There is some explanation as to why, the deeper the dream the simpler it has to be, but it’s as a slightly disgruntled independent reviewer in the future that I wish there was more depth to this part of the third act. I am well aware of how much of a nit-pic that is, but in a film that is nearly perfect in all other areas it’s the only part I find critique in so had to include it.
I can not emphasis enough how much I love Inception. It shouldn’t work, the insane premise and gathering of a crew of different kinds of people can so easily fall apart. Here it is done perfectly, is consistently entertaining, and is generally considered a great film. I will say that pop culture has taken its concept and ingrained into our lives. Now the idea itself if fairly mundane. Oh, you only entered one dream? Weak. But I often hear the idea of “you die in the dream you die in real life” taken out of context. It isn’t that simple. The reason you its dangerous to die in the dream is because you’d wake up to the sedative. As explained by Eames, you’ll brain will get scrambled like an egg. It isn’t that you die in real life, you’ll just turn into a vegetable. Most people just remember it as you just die. I think that gets lost over the year. I even forgot it, that’s why I bring it up. Ten years of just seeing it portrayed in comedy shows will do that to you.
When was the last time you watched Inception? Do you remember that it was the sedative that would kill you? Did you go “woah” the first time you saw the city fold in on itself? Tell me in the comments below!