Review: “Inception” (2010)

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Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

It’s my belief that surrounding oneself with genius is a great way to feed one’s own creativity. Prolonged exposure to the innovative leaps of a genius mind can, at least in theory, potentially excite new ways of thinking in one’s brain. After watching Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” I feel as if my brain has not just learned new tricks, it’s actually also evolved.

In Nolan’s labyrinthine story, Dominick Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a thief who specializes in extractions (or the infiltration of targets’ minds to “extract” information from them), has been tasked with something different this time around:  To plant an idea in a target’s mind, an act of “inception.” With a crack team including his associate (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a master of disguise (Tom Hardy), a chemist, and an “architect” (Ellen Page), Cobb journeys through several layers of dreams in order to infiltrate the mind of a corporate executive (Cillian Murphy). This would on paper seem a likely smooth operation. But Cobb’s past–in the form of his deceased wife Mal (Marion Cotillard)–keeps haunting him and sabotages his attempts at inception, potentially leading to disastrous results for all involved in the operation.

The movie is of course very suspenseful–the pounding my heart was taking should have sent me to the hospital–but the mark of a good suspense film is when the suspense is just one element among many successful others. Nolan’s writing and direction here are first-rate; I do believe him to be a genius storyteller. My only qualm–and it’s a rather arbitrary one–would be with the Ariadne character. There’s something either with her dialogue or Page’s acting that feels off-key to me. Perhaps it’s because Ariadne, new to this world of mental extraction and inception, serves as a mirror of the audience. She is in lock-step with us as we/she peel(s) back the layers of the story. Unfortunately, the story, in the way that she blurts it out for us, unfolds through the form of rather artifical or forced exposition. Still, this is a minor nitpick for what is otherwise perhaps the most engaging film I have ever watched in my entire life.

The film so affected me that it made me question as I reeled out of the movie theater whether the reality I was perceiving was in fact real. Driving home, I expected streets to shift dream-like in front of me. Were I to wake up, would I find myself in yet another dream? In the real world, what truly is possible? “Inception” has infiltrated my consciousness in such a way that has made me realize new possibilities, creativity-wise. Now, that’s inception if there ever was one.

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