Inception

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Years ago, I had a recurring dream that involved eating key lime pie with Madonna inside a Walgreens. So to say I’m an expert on dreams would be, kind of, an understatement. Still, even with all my experience transcending the ether, Inception twisted my mind in so many ways I had to pinch myself several times to ensure my brain didn’t bend too far and snap into a comatose haze of delirium. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there are dreams within dreams within dreams and you will probably need a map to find the way back, but it’s 100% worth it. In today’s environment of sequels, adaptations and rehashes, Inception is singularly unique and refreshing.

On the basest of levels, it’s a film about dreams, but is equally about time, memory, forgetting and letting go of the past. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief. He steals the most valuable asset any of us possesses: an idea. Think of it this way — imagine plucking the idea for Google from Sergey Brin’s mind. Not now, but ten years ago, during its most infant phase. The premature, unseasoned principle of Google would be worth billions. That’s what Cobb does. He enters the mind when it’s most defenseless: while sleeping.

Cobb has spent his life perfecting the art of dream creation and manipulation. He and his similarly skilled team know where you hide your darkest secrets and most valuable ideas, and they make a handsome living stealing them. One problem: Cobb is on the run, wanted by the U.S. for a crime he may or may not have committed. Cobb hasn’t seen his children, the only people in the world he cares about and whom live in the U.S., in years.

Inception is a traditional heist film wrapped in a towel of originality and breathless beauty. Traditional in the sense that we have all the major elements of a standard heist film: One last job to clear your name, the prerequisite planning phase that takes place in an abandoned warehouse and a montage of Cobb rounding up his superbly and uniquely talented chums for said last job.

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The acting from everyone is a notch above top-notch. Leo is always good, always. It’s like the sun rising and taxes, he will not disappoint you. It helps that his films are chosen from the most premium scripts and guided by the highest caliber directors. He deserves it, and Inception is no exception on his sickening resumé. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent as Cobb’s closest friend and partner Arthur. With The Lookout, (500) Days of Summer and now Inception, JGL is clearly ticketed for even loftier roles. His breadth of versatility is remarkable. The remaining supporting roles, filled by Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy, are equally deftly performed.

Smartly, Christopher Nolan doesn’t weigh the film down with lengthy and complicated explanations — you simply open a briefcase, attach a tube to your arm and push a soft, white button and within seconds you are flitting about someone’s dream. Nolan instead chooses to focus on the imagery and detail of his dreamscapes. The locations are expansive and lush, from mountainous snow-swept castles to Parisian streets that fold upon themselves like a runaway Rubik’s Cube. The limited use of CGI allows the surreal environments a certain plausibility. This slick era of dream-jacking feels almost historical rather than contemporary.

Every jig and saw of this visual puzzle has been placed with the precision of an auteur. Here is a final product that, I’m sure, stretches across the big screen exactly as it was envisioned ten years ago when it was nothing more than a percolating idea in Nolan’s mind — ripe for the stealing.

Directed by Christopher Nolan

tags: christopher nolan, inception, leonardo dicaprio

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