Thursday, July 15, 2010

INCEPTION - Nolan's Best Yet

INCEPTION (sci-fi thriller)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine and Lukas Haas
Writer-Director: Christopher Nolan
Time: 148 mins
Rating: * * * * (out of 4!)

One of the gravity-defying dream-trips in INCEPTION

PREAMBLE: I normally hate it when a movie is so complex and complicated that it demands a second or third viewing. However, Christopher Nolan's Inception is so fascinatingly original and compelling that I wouldn't mind multiple viewings knowing that I will be getting a deeper understanding of the movie each time.

Indeed, Inception stands out from the summer fare that we are getting these days. Its 'dream-trip' conceit is as bold as The Matrix and it grips you so intellectually and emotionally that you will be talking about it long after the movie. And why not, the idea had been cooking in Nolan's head for eight years and it was thanks to the global success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight that Nolan managed to get funding for this mega-budget film.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Inception is basically a 'heist' flick about a special ops team led by Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) that infiltrates peoples' minds to extract the darkest secrets from their subconscious. In this film, however, Dom is hired by a Japanese businessman named Saito (Ken Watanabe) to perform an 'inception', planting an idea so deep in the subconscious of rival CEO Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) that he believes he had thought of it himself.

Watanabe and Cotillard

Dom's team includes his second-in-command Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); an architectural prodigy named Ariadne (Ellen Page of Juno), a thief named Eames (Tom Hardy), and chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao). Among the obstacles to the mission is that Dom is haunted by 'appearances' of his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who shows up now and again, messing up his mind.

HITS & MISSES: Much of the first hour is spent on laying out this sci-fi idea to the audience. As we observe an extraction that fails and Dom's recruitment of his new team around the world, the movie lays out all the hows, whys and what-the-hells behind 'extractions'. Even then, it is difficult to grasp these fanciful conceits and plot turns at the first sitting. That's why we may need multiple viewings.

Cotillard and DiCaprio

And they will be worth it because Nolan has so many eye-popping and mind-boggling dream sequences (shot in six countries) spread out in the film. Indeed, here CGI gimmicks are used to enliven and enhance the plot - and not the other way around. Among them are the scenes of a hotel corridor rolling in another; zero-gravity fights in hallways, roads and buildings folding up like a book and cliffs collapsing into oceans. Also, Nolan explores the ramifications of 'collective unconscious', like, what it can mean to share someone else's dreams, and how two or more people can meet in a dream and in reality with different results.

Heading the cast, DiCaprio provides another top class performance, well-aided by Cotillard who infuses beauty and mystique into the proceedings. Page provides the 'Watson' equivalent to the proceedings and helps us understand what's going on. Michael Caine has a cameo as Dom's dad while Pete Postlethwaite plays Fischer's dying father.

THE LOWDOWN: Arguably, this is Nolan's best effort yet and it is bound to generate lots of buzz in the media. Get 'Incepted' and don't be left out of the loop.


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