I would dub Christopher Nolan’s latest offering, ‘Inception’ a story that is hard to believe that can happen in real life but plausible enough for viewers to suspend all disbelief to go along with the director’s vision of multi-layered plot-lines.
The film which has taken off in the box offices to raving reviews is a period table of so many other such quintessentially philosophical films that explore man’s idea of illusion vs reality and its place in the unconscious mind.
Nolan admits that he was influenced by early films of the decade like ‘The Matrix Trilogy’, ‘Momento’, ‘Dark City’ and even ‘The Thirteenth Floor’ when he presented his 80-page treatment to Warner Bros as early as 2001.
Finally, 9 years later, we are treated to an action flick that combines intelligence, psychology and even the meta-physical and calls it into question. Watch the trailer of the film below.
‘A dream within a dream’ was the catchy tagline for the film but it is more complicated than that.
The storyline goes thus: a group of specialists known as ‘extractors’ work with a technology known as inception to obtain valuable government and corporate secrets for clients that are willing to pay. Existing on the fringes of the law, these extractors heist thoughts and information from their targets by entering their subconscious via a dream-sharing state.
However, one day, a leader of one of these extraction groups, Dom Cobb (played by Leanardo deCaprio) is offered the chance to reunite with his long-lost family by undertaking a dangeorus task of implanting a thought into the client’s corporate competitor, a Mark Fischer (played by Luke Haas).
Now while Cobb and his cronies are professionals at extraction, implanting requires more sophisticated skills and such tasks carry unquantifiable levels of risk because it takes both the target and the extractors deeper into a person’s subconscience than normal jobs would.
But enough of the storyline – I’m not yanking out the best bits of the film from my memory for you as a convenient excuse for you to give this must-see cinematic piece a miss just coz you got a free rundown of it from me. You will have to part with at least a tenner on this one, my friends. I did and I must admit, I almost missed this gem myself despite the rave reviews I had been getting from my Facebook buddies. That’s because I’ve become a cynic when it comes to big-budget Hollywood flicks.
Their storylines suck and there’s no take-away value for the viewer. In fact, most big-budgets these days seem to think they can get away producing mindless bomb-blasting, car-chasing, special effects 3D fluff for their audiences whilst sacrificng the storyline and the character development and I must say, they usually do, so lately I’ve become a more discerning viewer. That is, I pick my movies really carefully and when I do, I usually go in with a sceptical frame of mind and low expectations. Hey, it’s the best way to play it safe!
But I’ve got to say ‘Inception’ was different – You HAVE to go see it!
So, why do you have to see it? Let me count the ways….
1. Besides ‘Shutter Island’, this is a rare film that milks enough of both the commercial and artistic juices to create a nice film that gives you something to think about when it ends. Films like that don’t come very often from the vaults of Hollywood and so when it does, what a breath of fresh air it is. Plus, I take immense pleasure in films that engage my noggin every once in awhile. It helps keep me ole grey matter in top shape.
2. The characters are developed according to what their functions were in the plotline. In this scenario, strangely enough, no one except Dom Cobb (Leo’s character) was developed extensively and sure enough, there’s a reason for that. In short, yes, you’ll HAVE to see the film to why it was done that way.
3. The ‘dream within the dream’ message that runs throughout the body of the film allows for a narrative that is soooo deliciously multi-layered and complex that not even your after-lunch chocolate wafer biscuit can give your head so much analytical pleasure. A plot within a subplot and yet another sub-plot with each featuring one less character which are then all simultaneously orchestrated to tie up their loose ends at the same time with a ‘kick’ just before coming back to join itself to the first part of the plot? Why, that’s utter GENIUS!
4. Attention to detail; and not just conversational but visual as well. Like a master illusionist who draws his audience into the depths of his magical cave, Nolan has paid quite a lot of attention to ensuring the detailed brushstrokes on the canvas he has painted for his viewer doesn’t slip them by. As time and space, even physics, gives way to the dreamworld in the movie, one has to constantly focus on the various sub-plots to keep track if the story has moved from a dream to reality or vice versa as the two worlds collide very closely in this narrative via the character’s interaction and reactions as well as the action and dialogue. Also, sometimes visual cues are blatantly thrown at the viewer but the viewer is henceforth precautioned to be wary of that because this could just be a red-herring meant to throw them off-kilter from the actual course of the story. At other times, the state of the dreamworld is so much like reality, it’s hard to tell and that’s the fun of this flick.
5. The ending. The most controversial one of all and for those who’ve seen it, stay and read through this bit, but if you haven’t seen the film. STOP RIGHT HERE AND TURN OFF YOUR PC.
Right, so now….where was I?
5. The ending. Theories have been spewing all over the Net about whether Leo’s character Dom Cobb was still in ‘limbo’ or not and I can safely take a deep breath in and tell you it’s a resounding ‘YES!’ Here are my reasons:
– When Cobb wakes up in the plane, the flight attendant who was overseeing the whole process of inception wasn’t present. Instead, she was offering the passengers hot towels right before the plane was 20 minutes due for landing in LA. If he was back in reality, they would all have had to detach the wires that had been placed through their fingers right before inception.
– Cobb’s kids were wearing the same outfits and remained the same age as he had left them clearly signifying that he was projecting them from his memory. Another sign of him being in limbo.
– And of course, the last clue that Cobb was still in la la land was the totem that was still spinning right before Nolan’s clever gimmick of cutting the film straight out to end credits before we could even see if it would stop whirring. This, clearly no one will ever know if this visual clue is another sign of him being in limbo or not because of the abrupt cut but one can’t help but think that Nolan intended for it to keep spinning hence signifying that poor old Cobb was still in dream-state.
And of course the last reason why you should see ‘Inception’.
6. Viewers will be debating about point no. 5 for years to come because the story leaves you wondering about what is real and what isn’t for main character, Cobb. It even brings to question deeper truths about our existence in this Universe as to whether the reality we are living in is clearly an illusion.
After all, spiritualists have for aeons claimed that life here on Earth is merely a ‘maya’ (Sanskrit for illusion) – something we make up along the way and ‘Inception’ is probably a movie that deals with that never-ending dilemma in our time. The film’s theme clearly seems to have sourced itself to such spiritual and scientific debates bringing up ideas of the how the mind works.
And these key messages could be true. Why, the threads of meaning we give to our lives are solely after all, based on our perceptions and perceptions come from the mind, which is made up of thoughts/ideas/electrical energy that function within the conscious and unconscious mind. But what is the unconscious/conscious mind but waves of electrical energy transmitting information and data from the five senses picking up other information/data from its surroundings that are also made up of atoms of energy?
So yes, there is some deeper level of meaning to ‘Inception’ which gives way to even more question marks.
And if this is the direction that Christopher Nolan’s storytelling methods are going to take, then I can safely say there is hope yet in Hollywood.
‘Inception’ is now playing at a theatre (or dream) near you. Don’t miss it! 🙂
Posted on July 25, 2010, in Entertainment (Music/TV/Films), TV/Film Production and tagged Christopher Nolan's films, Christopher Nolan's Inception, Dreams, Ending of Inception, Inception, Leonardo deCaprio in Inception. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.