Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy. Dileep Rao, Michael Caine
Director: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 2 ½ hrs
The most anticipated movie of the year is upon us. ‘Inception’, directed by the current star director of Hollywood, Christopher Nolan, has a star studded cast with an intricate plot that promises to be one the greatest movies of the year, hell, maybe one of the greatest of all time. Does it live up to its promise? Let’s find out.
The whole movie is based on the concept of ‘lucid dreaming’, a state of being aware whilst dreaming. While the science of this concept has been executed almost flawlessly, the plot does little to hold up to the exciting premise. The movie is centered on Di Caprio playing Dom Cobb, a skilled extractor, or a stealer of ideas from dreams, who after failing a mission, is given the near impossible task of ‘inception’, or planting an idea into a person’s mind. The first half is a brilliant tour de force which explains the concept of extraction and inception, with Cobb and his team, consisting of Arthur (Gordon-Levitt), a researcher, Ariadne (Page), a dream architect, Eames (Hardy), a master of disguise in the dream world and Yusuf (Rao), a chemist who’s compounds can put people to sleep for hours on end, showing the entire concept of a dream-within-a-dream space-time continuum, juxtaposed with Cobb’s personal demons related to his wife Mal (Marion Collitard), lead up to what should have been a mind blowing second half.
But unfortunately, the second half turns out be highly clichéd and mildly disappointing considering the expectations stemming from the first half. It mostly deals with the team entering the dreams of Robert Fischer (Cillain Murphy) to plant an idea in his subconscious. This slowly spirals down to a dream-within-a-dream-within-dream-within-a-dream (yes four of them) chain, which although handled very well without driving the viewer crazy, becomes less intelligent and more over-complicated than what the director was going for. Here we see the full extent of Cobb’s inner demons and although it answers a lot of questions asked in the first half and ties up most of the loose ends, it almost feels incomplete despite its long running time, because somehow you feel the concept wasn’t utilized and explained as well as it could have been. The obligatory ambiguous ending which you can see from a mile away almost feels like an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.
One more complaint I have from the movie is the lack of character development. Except Cobb, every other character feels very one dimensional and lacking any depth whatsoever. Although each actor does a great job holding their own, you feel no sympathy, empathy or any sort of emotion for any of the supporting cast. Even Di Caprio, who does a very commendable job, is cast in a very phoned-in sort of role, picking up from where Shutter Island left him. Confused, chaotic and in total denial.
Despite all these shortcomings, Inception is a great movie and does have a lot of things going for it. Excellent cinematography, a taut storyline for a large part of the movie, brisk pace, smart dialogs and a clever script than unfortunately never reaches the level of intelligence it aspires for. Although there is more criticism than praise, I still recommend the movie for at least a one time watch. Some people will love it, some may hate it, and most will not understand it. This is definitely a very well made movie that probably would have been dealt with less harshly had it been directed by anyone else. But with Nolan at the reins, you expect nothing less than perfection, which he unfortunately never manages to achieve. Good movie? Certainly! Movie of the decade? Unfortunately not.
So with my full recommendation, go watch the movie. You will certainly enjoy it. It will inspire spirited debates, discussions and late night conversations. But in the end, it will always remain a very good movie that unfortunately has been bogged down by the weight of its own expectations.