I have to admit I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan. His films are smart, original and suspenseful. If you are ever looking for a great rental, Memento, The Prestige and The Dark Knight are great pics. Here, however, Nolan, trying out his screenwriting skills, may have gone a bit too far. One of the biggest challenges of genius is restraint, and Nolan shows none.
The film starts with a haggard hero, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), washing up on a beach. He staggers into a room where he finds an old man, Saito (Ken Watanabe). Saito recognizes Cobb from years ago…and cue the flashback. Cobb and his buddy Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are convincing a now young Saito of their skill at entering peoples’ minds through dreams and reading their thoughts. In fact, they are in Saito’s dream as they speak. Unconvinced, Saito wakes up. They are now in a seedy apartment…and still dreaming. Impressed with this dream-within-a-dream strategy, Saito hires Cobb and his team to go into the mind of his business rival, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), and plant a thought, a thought that will dismantle Fischer’s conglomerate and leave Saito with a monopoly.
Tired yet? It gets better. The team knows to achieve inception—implantation of an idea in the mind—it must go to a third level of dream state: a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream. It’s dangerous and can permanently damage the brains of everyone involved. To make matters worse, Cobb, haunted by his late wife’s suicide, is having trouble keeping her out of his subconscious (and the dreamscape).
I have to say, I really liked the movie, it’s just a bit much. Visually, intellectually, philosophically, this movie requires a tremendous amount of focus. The acting is great, the special effects are unparalleled—actually worth the price of the ticket alone. I guess it’s just been awhile since I went to the movies and had to think.