by Steven Leventhal
My colleague David Schuster reviewed this movie a few days ago. One of his main comments was, “when plots and concepts are so off the wall I tend to get bored and
that’s exactly what happened with “Inception” as far as I’m concerned.”
It’s too bad he felt that way. There aren’t that many movies released today where you have to actually think and pay attention. Because when you do, and the movie is smartly written, the payoff is the final product. There isn’t always a nicely crafted ending. The viewer is left with gnawing questions and the debate lingers. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a movie that comes to mind.
Let’s face it, in a summer full of reboots of old movies, book
adaptations, and star-studded shoot-em-ups, this comes as breath of
Just like in sports, sometimes you craft a winning ball club, not just
by spending the most money, but by surrounding a core of talented
athletes with a few good role players, a savvy field manager, and then
suddenly, everything clicks. The same could be said for this film.
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
-Edgar Allan Poe
This movie asks the question “What if someone
could enter your subconscious and plant an idea in your brain?” It also
asks the viewer to figure out what is reality and what isn’t. David is
right in that this movie is reminiscent of “The Matrix.” That film also
questioned our perception of reality.
“Let me tell you why
you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you
can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that
there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but
it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this
feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
– Morpheus in “The Matrix”
Inception was smartly, no, make that brilliantly crafted. It is by far
the best movie I’ve seen this year, and perhaps in quite some time. I
will likely go see it again now that I know the plot, in order to look
for the nuances in the movie, of which there appear to be many.
As an A-lister, Leo DiCaprio can have his choice of scripts. “Body of Lies” is a prime example. Leo worked with Ridley
Scott in the brilliant portrayal of a CIA agent who clashes with his
Langley handlers over the how to track down a terrorist leader. Good script, talented director, excellent movie.
Back to “Inception.” As others have said, it’s the story of a gang of
“thieves” who steal ideas from people’s brains while they are
sleeping. Extraction has become a high priced commodity in the world of
high stakes corporate espionage. Cobb (DiCaprio) plots one final caper
so he can “retire” and return home to see his estranged children. He
can not return to the US for reasons that are explained in the movie. He
attempts the reverse process – that is to implant an idea in the
dreamer’s deep subconscious. It’s a very dangerous job, and Cobb has to
assemble a team that includes a “monitor,” an “architect,” and a
“forger” who impersonates people the dreamer knows.
The plan involves several layers of dream states so a chemist is brought
on as well. I don’t want to spoil too many plot points other then our
gang encounters a lot of elements along the way to achieving their
objective, including some lingering elements from Cobb’s subconscious.
This movie has taken an intriguing concept and parlayed it into a film
that will be talked and debated about for quite some time. It has
great special effects, not all of which as GCI (sorry to inform you ,
David) but were in fact done with wires and elaborate sets. There are
visuals that will blow your mind. The plot is very intricate, but if
you pay attention, you can follow along. I went to see it with two
people who had seen it already. One of them commented that in the
second viewing “you start to notice some repeated lines, and the deja vu
becomes more apparent.” The other one told me about certain things
that appeared in the dreams early in the movie made more sense the
second time around.
I can’t recommend this movie enough, especially if you like films that
make you think. See it in the theater with the loud speakers to enjoy
the crashes, explosions, and other effects. For me this was a pennant winning grand slam – four stars – a definite keeper for the permanent collection.