The thing about a Nolan film is that you really have to watch it. Inception really isn't a movie where you can space out at any point. It all requires heavy attention. Christopher Nolan is a real filmmaker. This movie is about something. It's a very simple message, and it's not really clear what that message is until the final act, but you have to put your faith in Nolan that everything you see really is going somewhere.
Inception tells the story of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who specializes in entering people's dreams and extracting information. He is hired by a very powerful man, Saito (Ken Watanabe), for a very special job, one that only Cobb seems convinced is possible; inception. Inception is the process of putting an idea in someone's mind and actually convincing their subconscious that they are the one that thought of it.
What's so great about Inception is that it's a totally original idea, yet it is woven through the fabric of your classic heist movie archetype. Everyone on Cobb's inception team is hand picked, and they each have their area of expertise. You know, like there's the guy who's good with explosions, there's the guy who stays in the van, and there's the guy who is the vault expert? Well this time we have Ellen Page who is the architect of the mind's mazes, we have Dileep Rao as the chemist who sedates people enough, etc. I don't want to reveal any more about the movie, but the general plot is the story of Cobb's inception of a powerful man, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) in order to fulfill an offer he simply can't refuse.
DiCaprio and the rest of his ensemble cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard and a very likable Tom Hardy, are simply off the hook. Gordon-Levitt may steal the movie, but that's only if the audience has grown to love every single one of his performances like I have. He does not overshadow DiCaprio however, but at this point I've come to expect greatness from every DiCaprio performance. He certainly delivers this greatness in Inception.
The single greatest success of Inception may in fact lie with its logic. Despite the crazy images presented to you in the trailer, the story is rather easy to follow, and very logical. In fact, the story is so straightforward that no matter how abstract Nolan gets, and no matter how many dream layers deeper our characters get, we still know what's going on. Christopher Nolan allegedly spent ten years writing this movie, and it shows. All of those trippy shots from the trailer without normal gravity all make perfect sense once you reach them. Unlike Nolan's previous mind-f**k, Memento, at the end of Inception I understood what I had just seen. And while I encourage multiple viewings to catch more and more things that I'm sure are there, it doesn't necessarily demand them.
Another tremendous success lies with the combination of the visual effects, editing, cinematography, and Hans Zimmer's score. To say this movie is superbly well-made is an understatement. Zimmer may have written one of the most impressive scores of his career, pounding, exploding, and softly serenading in just the right places. As for the effects, they may be some of the best I've ever seen. This stems from Nolan's love of doing as much on camera as possible. He believes, and I wish the rest of Hollywood would follow in his footsteps, that special effects should always be an afterthought. "It's always very important to me to do as much as possible in-camera, and then, if necessary, computer graphics are very useful to build on or enhance what you have achieved physically" said Nolan in an interview. Hear that, James Cameron?
I'm not sure what else to say about this movie, for this is a review and not an analysis. Perhaps I'll blog about the imagery of Inception, assuming I take enough heroin and am able to fully comprehend all the things Nolan has going on. Whatever happens, I close with the fact that Christopher Nolan has now made 6 incredible - not good, incredible - movies in a row. As far as I'm concerned this puts this relatively young man among the leagues of our all-time greatest directors. Perhaps, like PIXAR, Christopher Nolan will screw up one day. But it doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.