Sunday, 28 August 2011

Inception (2010)

I had seen Inception at the cinema last year when it was released, but I had forgotten how good I thought it was. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the odd summer blockbuster. I have recently enjoyed Super 8, Cowboys and Aliens, and I’m looking forward to ROTPOTA; but Inception is a brilliant tonic to the usual fayre that we are used to digesting in the summer months. Christopher Nolan actually forces us to pay attention, think, and then apply what we have learned. We are introduced (whether we know it or not) to the concept of Lucid Dreaming; the idea that we can control our dreams, and in this case to dream within a dream. To an extent we are left questioning whether what we see is real; rather like The Matrix. What sort of a blockbuster is this? A ruddy good ‘un, that’s what!

Cobb (DiCaprio) and his associates Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), and Eames (Tom Hardy) are mercenaries who enter people’s dreams to steal information (short version!). The film centres around a job to plant an idea into someone’s mind, a process called inception. In this case the target is Robert Fischer (Cilian Murphy), son of a powerful businessman (Pete Postlethwaite) who is on his deathbed. The man who has commissioned this job is Saito (Ken Watanabe), a businessman in competition with the Fischers, who wants Robert to dissolve his father’s entire company. This is the idea that must be planted into Robert Fischer’s mind.

To try and explain the subtleties and nuances of entering people’s dreams, what happens at each level of dreaming, and the story arc of the main character Cobb, is far too ambitious. If you have already seen the film then you know what happens; and if you haven’t, then trying to explain it will just be far too confusing. Suffice to say, you should definitely see it. Christopher Nolan has crafted a very involved, somewhat complicated, thought-provoking, yet very stylish and accessible film. The central idea that this group can enter peoples dreams to steal information is one of those simple ideas that, with a few tweaks, is just brilliant (I’m thinking also of the game “Portal”, and “Blink”, one of the episodes of Dr Who).

The cast is all great. I think Ellen Page got a bit of stick for coming across as being a bit stupid and just being there for the exposition. I think this is unfounded; she is perfectly good, and let’s face it, someone had to be there to help the exposition. She was also good as the one person who stood up to DiCaprio’s character, as she was the only one who saw the danger that his unconscious posed to the operation. DiCaprio once again demonstrates his ability to lead a film, from his action packed introduction to the heartbreaking climax of his story. Tom Hardy is very smooth as the brains of the operation as much as anything, and Gordon-Levitt demonstrates that he can do action just as well as he can be a pretty boy.

Added to this are some fantastic special effects. Arthur’s fight in the hotel corridor is absolutely brilliant; not to mention Ariadne remodelling the Paris cityscape. Cobb’s limbo world also looks amazing, helped enormously by some wonderful cinematography from Wally Pfister (who seems to be a Chris Nolan favourite). The score from Hans Zimmer is also top notch, as they tend to be.

So, a blockbuster that’s a break from the norm, definitely; the best film of 2010, most probably. Great cast, great idea, great story, amazing special effects and wonderful music. Overall, a pretty brilliant film.