“Your mind is the scene of the crime”
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
Synopsis: A thief who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.
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Christopher Nolan, the writer and director of Inception, has a knack for crafting complex stories that follow unconventional or non-linear narratives. He first came to notice in 2000 with the reverse-chronology thriller Memento, in which, each day, after sleep has wiped his memory clean, amnesia victim Guy Pierce must reassemble evidence leading to the killer of his wife. Heavily influenced by the spiritual text A Course in Miracles, Inception explores more complex issues, questioning whether what we perceive as reality is actually so or is, in truth, a dream upon which our unconscious guilt is projected. Such exercises are, of course, always futile in as much as they are impossible to answer with any certainty, but Nolan at least successfully pulls off the same objective as the protagonists of Inception by planting the idea in our minds…
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, leader of a band of thieves capable of invading a target’s dreams in order to extract information that is valuable to their clients. Other members of Cobb’s band include Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy) and newcomer Ariadne (Ellen Page) who serves as the audience’s surrogate through whom the convoluted mechanics of the practice of extraction are explained. Cobb is a complex, troubled man, haunted in dream scenarios by projections of his dead wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), whom the authorities in the USA suspect him of murdering.
Cobb and his group are hired by businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to plant an idea in the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the son of an industrial magnate (Pete Postlethwaite), to prevent his father’s empire from gaining a monopoly over the world’s fuel supplies. It’s a dangerous operation which involves journeying not only into Fischer’s dream, but then engineering dreams within that dream in order to travel deep enough into Fischer’s subconscious to implant the idea. By doing so, however, the group risk falling into limbo, an unstructured dream space in which time is expanded so that a minute in reality can last for decades…
Inception is a curious mixture of cerebral drama and action adventure which is entertaining and frustrating in equal measure. It’s certainly not a movie that reveals all its intricacies with one viewing, and a second viewing is mandatory in order for some to gain even a tenuous grasp on exactly what is going on. This is no bad thing – too often Hollywood feeds us an unending stream of high-concept, low intelligence action blockbusters that insult the intelligence of most viewers, so it’s refreshing to be presented with a piece of work that presents a challenge to all who watch it. Nolan even acknowledges the futility of trying to provide a definitive answer to the mysteries he creates by providing a tantalisingly ambiguous conclusion that nevertheless may leave some viewers feeling cheated. Others will relish the questions Nolan poses – the internet is awash with debates, theories and arguments about every aspect of this movie.
Click below for a free preview of the Kindle book, The Films of Christopher Nolan. The book, written by the author of this review, features reviews of all of the actor’s films, and is available to buy, or to read for free if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited. You don’t need a Kindle reader – Amazon’s Kindle app works on most popular devices and can be downloaded for free from their site.