Of all the movies hitting this summer, none had me quite as jazzed as Inception. Stepping away from the Batman franchise that he revitalized, Christopher Nolan is returning to an original concept – and that’s putting it mildly. Inception rewards the viewer every step of the way with a complex, cunning, and truly original movie experience. Let’s break it down.
The core conceit of the movie is simple: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an “extractor” – a certain class of industrial spy who specializes in diving deep into the subconscious of his unwitting victim and retrieving things that would prefer to stay hidden. And he’s good – one of the best. Along with his team, he pulls off heists unimaginable. But then one goes wrong. Cobb is haunted by the memory, and when his new Architect (played by Ellen Page), the person responsible for creating and maintaining the dream landscape, finds out, things start to get very hazy. Cobb is hired to perform the opposite of an extraction – the insertion of a false memory that will cause a corporate tycoon to sell off his business. It’s never been done, and for good reason.
But all this is just plot – you could get it from Wikipedia. What makes Inception hum is the fantastic attention to detail that Nolan brings to the enterprise. Cobb’s heists take place in dreams, and they speak in dream logic – repetition, coincidence, and symbology. The film moves through these worlds gracefully, with several unforgettable action scenes demonstrating what CGI is really suited for: architecting the worlds of the unreal. These moments will have you scratching your head and catching your breath. Inception is not an action movie by any means, but it delivers more than enough adrenaline to keep you glued to the screen, even through some of the movie’s unnecessary exposition (that seems somewhat tacked on to “explain” the proceedings).
DiCaprio continues his great run with his performance as Cobb – haunted by the fallout from his last botched job (made terrifyingly real in his subconscious), he balances confidence and frailty in a deeply powerful way. Dom Cobb is the best at this – but he’s also very cognizant that it might not be good enough. Where Inception finds its greatest success is in making you feel the same uncertainty up to the movie’s final shot. It’s a spectacular film, and one of the summer’s must-sees.