IMAGINATION REIGNS IN ‘INCEPTION’
Adventures in the subconscious take genre to next level
Director Christopher Nolan has been messing with our minds, our memories and our dreams ever since he put himself on the moviemaking map with 2000’s “Memento.”
Nolan’s latest mind-blower, “Inception,” goes way beyond “Memento” and sets a new standard for big-screen imagination.
Computer-generated special effects take the audience into beautiful, threatening, action-filled dream levels reminiscent of the art of M.C. Escher. And as we follow the characters farther into parts of the subconscious, the question emerges: What’s real and what’s not? Remarkably, Nolan provides ample clues as his mindbending movie rips through ever wilder worlds.
Here’s the setup, without giving away key plot points: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team of thieves are hired to plant an idea in the mind of the heir to a huge fortune (Cillian Murphy). To do this, they must get the heir into a dream state and hooked up to a special device that allows the team to share his thoughts and create alternate universes that will seem real to the heir. Then they must lead the heir through various levels of subconsciousness until he is ready to discover the idea that will change his mind radi--
cally — and the course of the future.
Cobb rounds up a team of experts to help create and navigate the dream worlds. They include Ellen Page, the architect who designs the dream landscapes; Ken Watanabe, the tycoon who is paying for implantation of the idea; Joseph GordonLevitt, the point man who helps the team out of dangerous situations; Tom Hardy, a forger who can assume various subconscious identities; and Dileep Rao, a chemist who can administer powerful sedatives to make the heir and Cobb’s team go deeper and deeper into a shared dream.
If you’ve seen “The Matrix,” then you’ll probably understand the idea of alternate universes. But “Inception” makes “The Matrix” look comparatively simple since we follow the characters through multiple levels of unreality.
Most of the action in “Inception” comes from the notion that the heir will put up resistance as the dream progresses. At various levels of the subconscious, the heir’s reluctance takes the form of machine-gun-wielding armies battling those who are sharing his dream. And sometimes, the actual settings begin to deteriorate, with buildings crumbling and hotel corridors rotating 360 degrees.
Two more big problems lurk in these dreams. Cobb is bringing along his own memories from previous missions, and those include a troublesome figure from his past who wants him to stay in the level of his subconscious where she resides.
What’s more, if Cobb or any of the other people die in the deepest of the dreams, they might very well be unable to climb back through the necessary levels of unreality to reality. If all of this sounds complicated, it is. But “Inception” is an elaborate maze that’s well worth navigating. It’s a brilliantly trippy cinematic work of actionfilled surrealism. The sets, special effects and acting are first-rate. Nolan’s script is even better. Rating: PG-13 for action, volence. Running time: 2 hours, 27 minutes. Theaters: Alamo Lake Creek, Barton Creek, Cinemark Galleria, Cinemark Cedar Park, Cinemark Round Rock, Cinemark Southpark Meadows, Dobie, Gateway, Highland, Lakeline, Metropolitan, Starplex, Tinseltown Pflugerville, Westgate.
Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) helps a team of criminals out of dangerous situations in the subconscious of their victim.
Ariadne (Ellen Page) and Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) try to scam the heir to a fortune by taking the back door to his subconscious.