Set up as a thinking man's thriller, director Christopher Nolan's (Memento, The Dark Knight) was billed as the film that was going to save a poor year at the cinema. So far this year the films that have been released have been lightweight to say the least. This film was supposed to change all that. That has led to the film having elevated expectations attached to it, but somehow this film has managed to live up to them. But that doesn't make it perfect….we'll get to that, though.
Sometime in the seemingly near future some men have figured out how to invade your most private of moments. Dom (Leonardo Di Caprio – Gangs of New York, The Departed), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt – (500) Days of Summer, Miracle at St. Anna) and Nash (Lukas Haas – Witness, Brick) have developed a way to get what they want or need from you by stealing it from your dreams. The leader of the outfit is Dom Cobb, who hires out his merry band to corporations or individuals for a ton of cash.
On their latest assignment, Nash, the architect, makes a wrong move and they find themselves in danger due to one angry client. Rich and unscrupulous businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe – The Last Samurai, Letters from Iwo Jima) offers to save them if Dom does an impossible job for him. He wants them to convince the son of dying businessman Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite – In the Name of the Father, Clash of the Titans – 2010), Robert (Cillian Murphy – Red Eye, Batman Begins), to break up his father's company so it no longer threatens Saito's. In exchange Dom et al will be compensated and Dom will be able to re-enter the United States without being arrested for the murder of his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard – Public Enemies, Nine).
Dom assembles a team consisting of Arthur, a new architect – Ariadne (Ellen Page – Juno, Whip It), forger Eames (Tom Hardy – RocknRolla, Marie Antoinette), chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao – Avatar, Drag Me to Hell), and Saito, who is just tagging along to make sure the job is being done. Their already tricky task is made all that much more difficult by the fact that Robert has been trained to defend his subconscious against such incursions. They are going to have to do it the even harder way.
The way cool cast that Christopher Nolan has assembled for this film is a bit mindblowing. When you can get Leonardo Di Caprio, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Pete Postlethwaite, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, and Cillian Murphy for one film you already start off ahead of the game. I was particularly impressed with Cotillard's ethereal portrayal of Dom's dead wife. The lady certainly can act. Despite all this talent the lack of character development in the film/script tie the hands of these great actors. We don't really end up caring for any of the characters, which hampers our enjoyment of the film. Each of the actors tries their best as they know that the film has the potential to be a substantial one.
As I previously said the film is an intelligent one. But at a certain point I began to think it was almost too smart for its own good. It goes a couple of steps too far. We are supposed to be so stunned by the fact that it tries to accomplish the seemingly impossible. If you managed not to be wowed by the smarts and visuals then you might see that there are plenty of weaknesses like lack of character development and that it drags in parts. The often stunning visuals and the originality of what is being attempted is often enough to allow us to enjoy Nolan's film.
"Inception" is full of smart twists and turns and looks great. Somehow I still left the theatre with an empty feeling. It did not engage me nor did it make me feel anything. I began to question if I even liked it. I did have to give it credit for being a thinking person's film.