You’ll want to pay attention to Christopher Nolan’s newest Hollywood blockbuster, Inception, as it literally guides you though a mental labyrinth of not only dream psychology and the unconscious, but also a labyrinth of plot twists and a good mix of internal and external conflict, depending on how you look at it.
Nolan gave the summer box office a jolt with Inception’s intricate plot, amazing visuals, and original take on the psychological thriller. The plot centers on Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), the leader of a group of thieves (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas) who specialize in the extraction of information through shared dreaming made possible by a nifty little gadget and a sedative.
Dom is your typical stoic protagonist with a dark past who wants nothing more but to give up his life of thievery and return to his family. In order to do that, he must first complete one final impossible job. This time, instead of stealing from someone, Cobb and his crew must plant an idea in the head of corporate businessman, Robert Fisher (Cillian Murphy), which is apparently much more difficult than the usual thievery. But just as the dynamics of the plot are revealed in different “levels” of dreams, perhaps it’s best to look at the film the same way.
The first level should probably be called “Dream Stealing 101,” because of a clever twist in which Cobb is forced to recruit a college student, Ariadne (Ellen Page) into a life of crime. And just for the sake of exposition, the audience gets the low-down on how the dream gadget works through her eyes. But with such an all-star cast and the infinite possibilities in the way of special effects, it doesn’t take long to pull you in.
The second level of Inception is all about the special effects. As the thieves make their way into Fischer’s mind, we realize just how creative and subtle the effects are; tiny nuances in the background really make even the least action-packed scene interesting. But then the action starts and continually grows in unison with the effects; a zero-gravity fight scene is only what they show you in the preview.
The last level is also about special effects, but I’ll focus instead on the technical direction of the movie. As we’ve come to expect from the man behind Memento and the new Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan doesn’t disappoint. The visuals for each dream are wildly different, yet equally stunning. The choreography and stunt work combined with the most appealing shots really pulls you into the movie. And the plot and premise are interesting enough to almost make you wish it were real. The explosions and gunfights are also fun to watch.
And just as when you’re trying to recall a dream, the end of the film leaves you with that feeling of wanting more because it leaves many of the loose ends still unresolved by the credits. Despite this one drawback, Inception is a great summer popcorn flick whether you’re in it for the action or the story. I highly recommend taking a break from the waking world and joining this group of thieves as they trek their way through the dreamscape.