#12: Inception (2010)

Writer/director/producer Christopher Nolan had an 80 page treatment of a dream-based horror story sitting in one of his drawers somewhere, for nigh on ten years, waiting until he felt capable of creating a large-scale blockbuster. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight gave him the confidence to proceed and develop Inception, no longer a horror movie, but certainly a large-scale blockbuster.
Featuring an ensemble cast, the movie includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page,Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine, all in faultless performances. Marion Cottilard’s Mal, subconsciously projected into the dream worlds by her husband Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is particularly bewitching. 
The name of the game is corporate espionage, stealing secrets from people within their dreams, which this not very future world can achieve through sedatives and a sciencey-looking machine. In this world people can share dreams and trick information from one another, but the big question is, can you pull off inception? Can you put an idea in someone’s mind, without them knowing it’s not their own?

Nolan claims this film deals with the subconscious and the ramifications of bringing one’s deepest thoughts and desires to the surface. More than that, for him Inception focuses on the issues arising from sharing dreams, of allowing others to observe one’s own subconscious. He’s not wrong, and ideas of trust and sanity are at the core here, but it’s not all as clever as he likes to think. Certainly, the plot and this science fiction technology is all intricately outlined, but this means we spend the whole film learning what is going on and being told how it all works, which gets more than a bit tiresome, and really limits what it could achieve. Critics have read all sorts of intelligent things into Inception, but I’d say this is more their insight and elaboration than anything else. World building is fine, but there’s not much room for our imaginations here.

That’s not to say that this is a bad film, far from it. Inception is a well-paced yet still explosive blockbuster, making over $825,000,000 at the Box Office. It is veritably riddled with action and adventure, with multiple set pieces which are so inspired that I was leaping about in my chair. Although, for that revolving corridor scene I had to just sit back, shake my head and sigh ‘cooooooool’. The special effects are at times stunning, such as the Parisian dream scene where Ariadne (Ellen Page), the newbie team architect, explodes the stalls of fruit and veg around her as she explores the dreamscape.

So yes, this is a good film, a huge blockbuster cinema experience and special effects bonanza. But there is the unmistakeable sense that Inception is trying to confuse and therefore impress us with its complex plot. I suppose this is part of the charm, and what gives the substance to what is essentially a heist movie, but still, I’d rather it got on with exploring what are some potentially very interesting ideas. Plus, there would probably be more room for explosions.