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"Inception" is easily my most anticipated movie so far this year.
It's not because I loved the previews for it or I read some interviews or I heard the buzz about it. It's because it's directed by Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "The Dark Knight"), it has an amazing cast and it is based on an original script. That last one is almost unheard of in summer blockbuster land these days.
I think it's great that Nolan was able to get a huge amount of money to make a movie that didn't have a built-in audience. But there's another reason why I like "Inception;" it's the best film of the year so far.
"Inception" deals with dreams. There is no long introduction talking about the technology that was discovered that allowed people to inhabit others' dreams or anything, though. The audience is thrown right in the middle of it all and you have to pick up information as you go. The film may completely baffle you in the first 20 minutes. I don't want to be cliché and call "Inception" mind-bending, but I will say that it is a film that requires you to pay close attention. This film deals with dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams.
Nolan uses filmmaking standards in very interesting ways to create the dreams. A character asks another, "Do you remember how we got here?" As the audience, you don't ask yourself that because it's expected. In movies, characters suddenly change locations, even though their conversation keeps going on as if it never stopped for them to travel. That's exactly how dreams work. First you're here, and then you're someplace completely different. The fact that there is no concrete signal that a dream is being shown made the movie very compelling to me.
The dream-within-a-dream thing never becomes too complicated. If I described how the last 45 minutes played out, it would probably make your head spin. Thankfully, Christopher Nolan is the one telling the story, and he puts it together in such a way that I never wondered where the film was or what was happening. That is quite the feat, since at one point there are five versions of some characters in play. If you stop and think about it, it might confuse you – as it did me just now when I counted out the versions – but Nolan doesn't give time to stop. The movie moves at such a great pace that you just go with it and it all, miraculously, makes sense.
Now for the crew. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the leader of the group. He has to put together a team to put an idea into a businessman's head. If he does this, he'll be able to go home. I'll leave why he can't go home for you to find out when you watch it. The whole team concept basically makes this film a heist-con movie.
Cobb's second in command is Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Ariadne (Ellen Page) is brought in as a new architect for the dreams. Eames (Tom Hardy) is the forger – he can make himself look and sound like other people in the dreams. And Saito (Ken Watanabe) is the benefactor along for the mission to make sure all goes well. The mark in this con is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), who brings a trusted colleague (Tom Berenger) along in his subconscious. Also roaming the dreams is Mal (Marion Cotillard), Cobb's wife.
OK, I know that was going overboard in just listing characters and actors, but I felt that everyone deserved mention because it is one of the best casts I've ever seen assembled. I'm not saying there are any Oscar-worthy performances here – and there really aren't – I'm just saying that all of these actors are great and they do a great job. It's just that this is a summer blockbuster and the cast is so large that no one stands out above the others. It basically turns into whom you like the most. In my case, I'm a big fan of DiCaprio these days and he gives yet another strong performance. I've also enjoyed most of Gordon-Levitt's work and he's great here, too. I even enjoyed Ellen Page, who usually annoys me. But Tom Hardy, who was amazing in "Bronson," is by far the coolest. His joking with Gordon-Levitt provided some needed comic relief and he's very convincing in the action scenes. Also, it's great to see Tom Berenger in a major release.
I called Tom Hardy cool and that can be applied to the entire film. Hardy may be the coolest, but all of these actors are as cool as they come. They get to wear suits and shoot guns, take down a snowy compound, traverse hallways as gravity changes, etc. It's just plain cool. For the record, the gravity stuff was my favorite.
I may be glossing over the story and focusing on the action-type elements, but that's only because I don't want to ruin anything. There is a compelling storyline in this film and most of the movie isn't action-packed. The lack of action in the earlier part of the film isn't a problem, though, because all of the actors work so well together that even if a character seems a bit underdeveloped, you will hardly notice.
"Inception" is cool and I suggest that everyone watch it. There's compelling drama, great acting and action, a bit of humor and some absolutely amazing visuals. It's completely entertaining and I think most people will walk out of the theater pleased with this one. I certainly did.
A Cannelton resident, Harris is a movie buff and blogger who posts reviews of films at www.canneltoncritic.com.