For the first 20 minutes or so you might be scratching your head, trying to figure things out. Don’t bother. It should start getting clearer, but you’ll still be musing as the final credits come up. There are some who will simply give up. Don’t. There are also probably a number who will see it again to link together some points they missed.
“Inception” is a complex layering of plots and subplots all centered on exploration of the mind, dreams and the subconscious. Dom Cobb, brilliantly played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is an expert in probing the dreams of others and “extracting” information based on his findings from interpreting the dreams and subconscious. Dreams are his game; stealing secrets in an intriguing form of industrial espionage provides his income. Of course Dom has a team, including an adept number one guy. He also has a sleep machine to record the dreams.
After the introduction to all of this in sequences, including a numbing wave crashing experience on a beach, the focus shifts. The impeccable Ken Watanabe, in the role of Saito, approaches Cobb for a completely different job. Instead of asking Cobb to interpret dreams and extract information, Saito wants Cobb to implant information into the mind of a presumptive heir to an energy conglomerate. Thus, “Inception” is born.
What follows is a series of complicated, intense and magnificently filmed events based on the efforts of Cobb’s team. All this is further tangled by Cobb’s own personal life and tragedy of the death of his wife. Marion Cotillard, in another remarkable performance as Mal, Cobb’s irresistible wife. Twist here: did he kill her? Second twist: are his two kids dead or alive? Third twist: will Cobb escape all of this (a) alive, (b) home – where he longs to be?
This film contains scenes as vivid as cities folding into themselves, earthquakes, fighting in Paris, a snowy assault on a fortress presumably in the Alps, and a rain swept day in Los Angeles. There’s even an incredible take-off on Escher’s insolvable staircase.
The entire cast works to deliver a fantasy/science fiction story that misses going over the top. Michael Caine and Tom Berenger are among those boosting the twists and turns. Christopher Nolan wrote and directed “Inception.” It’s a testament to his imagination and daring that he followed up “The Dark Knight” and some others with this stretch.
Yes, I was baffled at times. Yes, I enjoyed it despite frequent head scratching.