USA / UK 2010  Directed by: Christopher Nolan  Written by: Christopher Nolan  Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas  Cinematography: Wally Pfister Editing: Lee Smith Music: Hans Zimmer Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine

After watching INCEPTION, a film that kept me in the seat for a gripping 2.5 hours, I quickly jumped on my laptop and punched out my impression. But, halfway through the writing, I decided to delete the whole thing.

INCEPTION was swimming in Christopher Nolan’s head since he was 16. It took an ensemble cast, $200 million, and god knows how many hours on the cutting-room floor, to have come up with the definitive opus of his career. The least I could do was to give it some deeper filtering before I laid my thoughts to keyboard.

If we said that INCEPTION is about dreams and a mind-warping journey, it wouldn’t quite measure up to those by David Fincher or David Lynch, for their versions drew more parallel lines to our actual dream experiences. If we wanted to dissect INCEPTION like Freud or Jung did, we wouldn’t have ended up with a palatable thriller like it did. If we simply said that INCEPTION was an amalgamation of VANILLA SKY and MATRIX, I think that would have been too snobbish of me. I want to take this review to another direction. I want to talk about the messages that Nolan wanted to deliver – and there were a few.

In classic Nolan style, the story centers on a neurotic hero, Cobb (DiCaprio). He is an agent that’s able to extract information from people’s dreams. His clients pay big bucks for his services because “those who control information control the world.” And, getting information that no one has access to or doesn’t even exist in the real world would be mission impossible to the nth degree. But, Cobb takes one step further: if you could extract information from the subconscious, then you could also implant it – germinating the idea and letting the person believe that s/he actually thought of it. Cobb’s client is Saito (Ken Watanabe), who wants to monopolize the global market by wiping out his biggest competition, Fischer (Cillian Murphy). And the planting idea is to dissuade Fischer from continuing his company after inheriting it from his father. And to achieve that, one must not only dive into the dream, but also a dream within a dream, and then another, and another; so to plunge so deep into one’s subconscious that there’s no doubt that the idea will seem like one’s own. Still following?

From here on, Cobb assembles a team of able characters, each playing an integral part in executing this impossible plan. Saito is so desperate to reach his goal, he’s willing to risk his life to join the team and submerge himself into the dream heist. (Because once you enter into multi-leveled dreams, you might not get out.) This shows the stake that’s put forth to the Saito character, demonstrating how some people are alpha types on crack.

As I mentioned before, Nolan’s aim was not solely to make a twisted mindscape, but to leave us with his view of the many lessons we learn in life, from the bond between lovers; to that everything sprouts from a single idea; to how when you think you are the best there is always someone who’s better; to how you are utterly incapable of resisting compelling primal instincts even when you are a highly intellectually developed human being; and to Marion Cotillard.

Under the guise of a mind thriller with an undulating plot that zigged and zagged, visual effects that would get picked up by other movies to follow, Nolan successfully packaged it into a very linear, coherent story arc, allowing the audience to appreciate the accomplishment of making this movie and walking away happy and feeling intelligent enough to get the points. The point that it isn’t the subconscious that shows us our true colors, but the waking moments that we fulfill by turning dreams into goals.


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