Friday 28 January 2011

Film: Inception (2010)

Written, directed and produced by the brilliant Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), this was one of the films of 2010 most eagerly awaited by SF fans.

It is set in the near future in a world the same as ours except that a combination of drugs and technology permits people to invade the dreams of others, imposing their own dream structures (designed by specialist "architects") in order to obtain secrets and even influence their target's subsequent actions (a process known as "inception"). The principal character, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an expert at this, and is hired by a powerful industrial organisation to influence the heir to a rival energy corporation (Cillian Murphy) to break up the corporation on the imminent death of his father. Cobb assembles a team who succeed in drugging the heir on a long flight and proceed to take him on a dream journey, steadily downwards through dreams within dreams, each with its own distinct setting, until facing him with a modified recreation of his father's deathbed scene. During this process, Cobb is hounded by guilty memories of his wife (Marion Cotillard), who committed suicide as a result of his manipulations, and who appears in the dreams constantly trying to frustrate his actions.

This is an intelligent, convincing and exciting thriller which held my attention throughout, but it certainly requires concentration to keep up with the fast-moving events as the story keeps flipping between dream levels. I understand that a lot of viewers found it baffling, but as I was aware of the general plot in advance I had no problem in following it. However, there were some details I was uncertain about or unaware of, and I found the Wiki plot summary (which I read after seeing the film) useful in tidying up some loose ends.

I rarely watch films more than once, but if I've enjoyed one enough to want to see it again, I like to leave at least a couple of years between viewings so that the details have faded from my memory. However, Inception is one of those rare films that I immediately knew I would want to watch again before long, in order to obtain even more enjoyment through a deeper understanding the next time around.

Christopher Nolan has done it again - the man seems unable to make anything but excellent films. What I like most about his work is that it is exciting but also highly original and intelligent - a league above the usual by-the-numbers, predictable and sometimes downright moronic level of Hollywood action movies.


Bill Garthright said...

Tony, are there any decent people in the movie? I need characters I can care about, and it certainly doesn't sound like that Cobb character would be one of them.

Well, I'm not much of a movie fan, anyway...

Anthony G Williams said...

Cobb is OK - he's suffering for his past mistakes rather than being a real villain.

There is another sympathetic character in the film, the youthful architect of the dream sequences (played by Ellen Page) who works closely with Cobb.