Director: Christopher Nolan Release Date: 16/07/10 Link: IMDB Apparently Christopher Nolan can do no wrong. Don’t believe me, then take a few seconds and look over the writer/director’s impressive filmography — Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight. Everyone has their own tastes and likes, but even if you tried as hard as you could, I don’t think you’d be able to convince me that any of those movies are below average. Actually, below average is setting the barometer way too low. Most of those motion pictures I just mentioned are so stunningly amazing and creative that it’s no wonder Nolan is considered by many as one of the best filmmaker’s of our generation. Nolan is surely deserving of that moniker for many reasons, but what sets him apart from a majority of the other directors and screenwriters is his ability to dream big and follow through on his innovative ideas. He takes you to places you’ve never been to before, and in many ways, they are places you would’ve never imagined yourself visiting. And Inception, the latest in his long list of awe-inspiring films, proves to be his most ambitious and satisfying project to date. Unlike most summer blockbusters, Inception actually requires you to think and demands that you pay close attention at all times. The narrative is so complex and has so many different layers that it may cause your brain to spin so hard smoke will be coming out of your ears. (And you butt will most likely be sore since the film is almost 2 1/2 hours long, but trust me, the minutes seem to tick by faster than a bruised and battered Oksana Grigorieva running away from Mel Gibson.) At times, following Inception is like trying to navigate through a corn maze while wearing a blindfold and earplugs and having your arms tied to your body. But if you put your trust in the visionary Nolan and go with the flow, everything will make sense at the end and you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable movie going experience. It’s not that Inception is difficult to follow, it’s just that sometimes it’s impossible to tell if what you are watching is really happening. Nolan has decided to put the focus of Inception on the surreal topic of dreams, so oftentimes the blurry line between reality and fantasy is hard to decipher. (Even the characters have trouble knowing if they are asleep or awake.) Plus, Nolan’s human subjects are a clouded mystery themselves, and just like any gifted storyteller should do, their various secrets and motivations are revealed at a slow, picture-perfect pace. At the heart of it all is Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a proficient yet flawed thief who specializes in entering a person’s dream and extracting beneficial information from deep within their subconscious. But Dom’s skill at his trade has also come at a price — he’s a wanted man and his crime has something to do with him being separated from his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), and their two children. Dom makes a living travelling the world doing extraction jobs with his long time assistant Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), however he is forced to put everything on hold when he gets an offer he can’t refuse from Saito, a wealthy industrialist played by Ken Watanabe. But what Saito wants Dom to do is universally regarded as beyond the bounds of possibility: enter someone’s mind and insert an idea instead of removing one. The poor target is Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), the son of Saito’s most fearful competitor. Saito would like to see Robert voluntarily dissolve his father’s empire, so it’s up to Dom and his talented dream team — Arthur, Ariadne (Ellen Page), Eames (Tom Hardy) and Yusuf (Dileep Roa) — to pry their way into his noggin, plant the seed and leave without ever being detected. In return they will all be richly compensated, especially Dom, who’s promised a clean slate so he can return home and reunite with his two precious offspring. But pulling off their mission will not come easy, especially when a conflicted companion from Dom’s past returns and threatens their lives and the whole operation. Inception is entertaining enough as Dom assembles his team and the characters explain the details of the dream world, but the film really moves into overdrive when they begin their impractical task. In order to be successful the group needs to make Robert think he came up with the idea all by himself, and that requires them to go three levels deep, which is a dream within a dream within a dream. It’s at this point Inception becomes three gripping and intelligent action films in one, with the dream thieves dodging enemies, bullets and explosions to achieve different goals in each of the three levels. You would normally think a movie with so much going on would collapse under all that weight, but Nolan uses the balance of a tightrope walker to ensure all of the segments flow together cohesively. And when it comes to the film’s jaw-dropping visuals, my mind hasn’t been this blown since 1999’s The Matrix. The two movies are very similar in that they largely take place in an alternate reality where the rules of time and space are altered, and just like the Wachowski Brothers, Nolan has taken full advantage of all the possibilities this concept has to offer. What happens during one dream level directly affects the next one in line, so if the characters were to roll down a hill while being strapped in a van, their surroundings would be shifting and turning in the consequent world. (My most favorite segment by far involves Arthur attempting to save his friends in a gravity-deprived hotel complex. Wow, after writing that I just realized how bizarre that sounds. But don’t worry, once you see the scene it will make complete sense.) In this summer (or any summer for that matter) that primarily consists of sequels, remakes and adaptations, it’s extremely refreshing to be treated to an original film that genuinely challenges you to use your brain while also giving your eyeballs a stimulating canvas to feast upon. In fact, Inception is so unprecedented that, if you’re like me, you’ll want to pinch yourself at the end to make sure you were not dreaming the entire thing. Photobucket