You may remember a little film called The Matrix that came out at the end of the Nineties, and how, ever since then, fight scenes and gun battles have never been the same. And besides the whole “bullet time” concept, The Matrix raised a lot of questions about the nature of reality and how we define and control it.
And now, in 2010, we get a similarly groundbreaking film called Inception.
This film got me excited for so many reasons. For one thing, it’s a pet project of director Christopher Nolan, known for such grand works as Memento, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight (the last easily being my favorite film). And it seems to get right what The Matrix put forward–a blend of thought-provoking dialogue, intense drama, and incredible action sequences.
The story follows Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a professional “extractor” who is hired to implant an idea into the mind of his employer’s corporate rival (Cillian Murphy) via a process known as “inception.” To pull this inverted heist off, Cobb gathers a team of skilled operatives: an architect to design the dream (Ellen Page), a forger to plant the idea (Tom Hardy), a chemist to administer the dream-inducing sedative (Dileep Rao), and a point man to handle threats (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
This is one of those science fiction stories that manages to actually tell a good story while showcasing its central theme, instead of swinging toward one direction or the other. On the one hand, the audience is fully committed to the plot as we follow the team along every layer of their treacherous journey. At the same time, though, we’re given a lot of pertinent information about shared dreams–and perhaps the film itself is a dream we’re sharing, or so it suggests.
Hands down, my favorite scene is the spinning hallway fight between the point man Arthur and a hotel security guard. As I said before, The Matrix pulled off some spectacular cinematic feats with CGI and “bullet time,” but this scene alone transcends all that. It’s shot in such a way to suggest the physics we perceive within a dream, yet comes off as natural.
Clearly, Christopher Nolan did a lot of research into dreams and all the ways human beings interact with them. Add in a great cast and a great score by Hans Zimmer, and you have one unforgettable experience.
Bibliography: Inception. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010.