Cast: Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), Eames (Tom Hardy), Saito (Ken Watanabe), Yusuf (Dileep Rao), Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), Browning (Tom Berenger), Mal (Marion Cotillard), Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), Miles (Michael Caine)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Theatrical release: 07/16/2010 DVD Date: 12/07/2010
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 149 minutes
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Review: Inception is one of those films that demands to be watched twice ... at least. But that isn't necessarily to its advantage here; since you know what happens, you spend the second viewing looking for details missed the first time around to help explain what happens in the film, only to come away with more questions than answers.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, an expert in retrieving information from a subject while they are dreaming by sharing in, and participating in, the dream. But he's also a fugitive, wanted for the murder of his wife. More than anything else, he wants to clear his name, return home and see his children. An industrialist, Saito, offers him the opportunity to do just that if he can plant the seed of an idea into the mind of a competitor, Fischer, without him knowing it, that is, perform an inception. Cobb takes a gamble that Saito can deliver and assembles a team to carry out the assignment.
To say the plot is perplexing is an understatement, but the basic premise is fairly simple. The trick for Cobb is to make Fischer believe the idea comes organically, and is not suggested to him. The solution is for Fischer to be unknowingly sedated, then while dreaming for Cobb to suggest that he's being targeted by an unknown organization and is willingly put into another dream (within the current dream) to escape. And now it gets complicated.
The basic and probably single most important question one will ask themselves is, How much of Inception is a dream and how much, if any, is reality?
No doubt everyone who sees Inception will form their own opinion as to what's happening at any given point in time, myself included. And no doubt there can and will be dozens of plausible explanations, all contradictory. That's clearly part of the fun and appeal here. But it doesn't seem that the film plays fair all the time, and that's a bit frustrating. After my second time through, I had, perhaps, a dozen or so questions that I wanted answers to. I was able to rationalize many of them within the framework I had devised to explain the sequence of events in the film, but there were more than a handful that I couldn't fit within my model. Without giving anything away, I'll list two relatively minor ones here. Let me be clear: I can provide convincing arguments as to why these shouldn't be issues, but they would then negate answers I had formulated for some of my other questions.
Why are Cobb's children dressed the same in both the flashbacks and the final scene? Maybe more importantly, why haven't they aged?
How did Cobb's father (Michael Caine) get to LAX in time to meet Cobb's plane from Sydney when the trip was planned at the last minute, and Cobb's father lives and works in Paris? Somewhat related, if Cobb is a known fugitive, wouldn't the Australian authorities have detained him when he first entered the country ... or at the very least, when he tried to leave?
On other matters, Inception is a stunning film to look at. The visuals are striking, and dreamworlds in which much of (or if you're of the opinion that the whole movie is a dream, than all of) the action takes place are creatively imagined. With respect to those action sequences, they do go on far too long; the scenes at the ice fortress and in the hotel, for example, could have been cut in half -- or more -- with absolutely no loss of continuity.
The performances by the cast of actors carrying out the inception are adequate, even well done, but nothing extraordinary. No, what people will talk about here is the intricate (convoluted?) plot and the environment in which it plays out.
I enjoyed Inception and will no doubt watch it a third time, just to help me fine-tune my analysis of the film. But I suspect I will still have unanswered questions ... and I'm satisfied if not altogether thrilled with that outcome.