PLOT: A corporate spy (Leonardo DiCaprio), who specializes in the art of “extraction”- where he can enter a persons dreams and steal secrets from their subconscious, is hired by a mysterious business mogul (Ken Watanabe) to carry out the near impossible task of “inception”. This means, rather than extract a thought, he has to plant one, in the mind of the son (Cillian Murphy) of a dying CEO.
REVIEW: “I feel like this movie had sex with my brain!” That was how INCEPTION was perfectly summed up to me by a loyal JoBlo.com reader, after leaving an advance screening of what's easily one of the most mind-bendingly brilliant blockbusters I've ever seen. I really find it hard to put into words how truly exceptional this film is, but I'll say this: INCEPTION is the antidote to every brainless, piece of crap blockbuster we've seen over the last few months.
Walking into INCEPTION, I actually had butterflies in my stomach. My expectations for this film were set so incredibly high after watching the trailer dozens of times over the last few months that I felt there was no way this could measure up. To everyone fearing the same thing, rest assured: this film delivers, and then some. Remember the jaw-droppingly awesome shot from the trailer featuring Paris folding up onto itself. Well, you ain't seen nothing yet, as this film is full of incredible shots like that, that I'll try not to ruin here.
INCEPTION is simply incredible in every conceivable way. It truly feels like everyone involved knew they were working on a classic, so the film is brilliant on every possible level. DP Wally Pfister outdoes the amazing work he did on THE DARK KNIGHT, with the absolutely stunning way he photographs this film. Sadly, I was not able to catch the IMAX version for the purposes of this review, but even on conventional 2:35:1 35mm, this film was a feast for the eyes. That said, I'll be seeing the IMAX version of this on Friday, as I'm sure I still haven't gotten the full intended effect.
As far as the acting goes, INCEPTION offers one of the best ensemble casts I've seen in a while, led by a rock solid lead performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, that's comparable to his best work with Scorsese. If anyone still has any doubts as to whether or not DiCaprio's one of the best actors currently working, this will convince them that he's everything he's cracked up to be and more. Nobody plays tortured like DiCaprio, and this gives him a lot of material to work with. At it's heart, INCEPTION is a story about his character's guilt over the loss of his wife- played by Marion Cotillard, and his quest to return to his family no matter what the cost. It's a great role and I doubt there's anyone out there that could have played it better than him.
Meanwhile, this film is also a great showcase for the excellent supporting cast that makes up his team. As DiCaprio's longtime partner, and most trusted confidant, we get the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who gets one of the most talked about action sequences in the film - the spinning hallway fight. Ellen Page, who up to this point is mostly known for being JUNO, should be able to escape the typecasting she's suffered from since then, as this is a major departure from that role. While some have complained that she's only around to explain things, I think she's extremely necessary, as it's through her that we really get an understanding of what exactly INCEPTION is.
As the forger, we get Tom Hardy, who blew me away in BRONSO and is now set to be the next Mad Max in FURY ROAD. Hardy actually gets a couple of really good action scenes of his own toward the end of the film, when he takes part in the incredible snowbound set-piece that evokes memories of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (Bond fans are going to love this). Hardy's downright electrifying here, and I think within a few years, he'll become a mega star.
Rounding out the cast is Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and in a small role, Michael Caine. I don't want to go too much into detail with these characters, as the less I reveal about the plot, the better, but all three are terrific. Watanabe in particular, has a much more three dimensional role that you'd expect judging from the trailers, and he makes an incredibly smooth and mysterious employer for DiCaprio's team.
Another element of the film that has to be mentioned is the incredible score by Hans Zimmer, that ranks with his best work. It manages to be both evocative of the amazing scores John Barry wrote for the Bond films, while at the same time being distinctly Zimmer, and maintaining it's own identity. It's so good that as I write this, I'm listening to the score on my iPhone.
As for Christopher Nolan, well, what can I say? The man's a genius. With THE DARK KNIGHT, I truly believe he made THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY of the superhero genre, but this is something altogether different. While it has the scale of THE DARK KNIGHT, thematically, and construction wise they couldn't be more different. Essentially, that was a straight-forward, film, but this is probably more in line with MEMENTO or THE PRESTIGE, albeit if done with a $200 million budget, and explosive action scenes. It's a great marriage of his different aesthetics, and I truly am in awe of the way he was able to pull this film together. I know this is probably one of the most uncritical reviews you'll ever read, but this film has truly left me stunned. Regardless of whether or not this makes any money (if there's justice, it'll outgross AVATAR), I truly believe INCEPTION is fated to be regarded as an all-time classic. It's a masterpiece.