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Inception

Ever had a dream that felt so real you thought it was reality? What if somebody actually managed to sneak into your mind while you were having that dream? That, in a nutshell is the premise of Inception, Christopher Nolan’s new movie and the best one to come out in a long time.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a corporate spy who steals secrets by sneaking into people’s dreams to acquire information from their subconscious. That is called extraction. One day a powerful businessman called Saito (Ken Watanabe) asks him to commit inception, that is to say insert an idea into the mind of a person. That is where it gets complicated.

Cobb explains that placing an idea inside a person’s head is the most complicated procedure that exists in his business. His partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes it is even impossible but to his surprise Cobb says that he has done it before. In order to do it, they will have to dig deep into the target’s mind in order to give him the impression that the idea is truly his. This requires placing the subject, millionaire Robert Fisher Jr. (Cillian Murphy), in a dream within a dream, within a dream, within a dream. Woo!

In order to achieve this impossible feat, Cobb assembles a team of experts as if he was breaking into a bank. There is Yusuf (Dileep Rao) a chemist, Arthur the point man, Eames the thief (Tom Hardy) who is a master of disguise, Saito who knows the target better than anyone, and Ariadne (Ellen Page) an architecture student who will help to create the world of the dream as they navigate through it. Since Ariadne is the newest member of the team, she is the audience’s eyes and ears as she learns how to modify landscapes with Cobb’s technology.

This is not the first movie to be set inside a person’s mind. The Matrix and The Cell have been there before, but Inception works with rules of its own and creates some unique images and moments of tension. For example, what happens to the dreamers in the real world will affect them in their dreams. When Arthur is tumbling inside a van in slow motion while dreaming, gravity stops working in his dream within that dream and he is able to fight henchmen in a hotel corridor as though he was in a space station. The henchmen in question are part of a defence system installed by people who have been trained to fight off mind invasions. Cobb calls them the brain’s version of white blood cells.

The inception sequence as a whole is when the movie gets in full gear and once it begins it barely stops. As each of these characters dig deeper and deeper into Fisher’s mind, it feels as though they are building a house of cards that gets even more dangerous as they keep building it. Then the house of cards begins to collapse and things get really interesting. Of all of the Oscars that this movie will undoubtedly be nominated for, none will be more deserved than for best editing. At the height of the battle taking place during the inception, there had to be at least four different events taking place at more or less the same time. It is difficult to keep track since time flows differently in a dream, meaning that some of these events are shot to make it look as though it is happening in slow motion, then in slower motion, and some in more or less real time. It is cool as can be.

Christopher Nolan is not only good at writing great stories, but characters as well. Cobb is man doing dangerous work for personal reasons. If he pulls off this job, Saito will use his influence to have charges against him dropped in the United-States, giving a sense of urgency to his actions. Arthur is cool under pressure, while Eames is a joker who enjoys teasing Arthur. Michael Caine has a small but important role as Cobb’s mentor and father-in-law. Even Cillian Murphy brings weight to his role as Fisher Jr. who is pondering the meaning of his complicated relationship with Fisher senior (Pete Postlewaithe). Then there is Marion Cotillard who plays Mal, Cobb’s late wife who is literally haunting his mind. The two of them have a very troubled past and sometimes that past will burst right through Cobb’s head like a freight train, putting his team in danger.

This is the best kind of summer movie there is. It has chases, gunfights, cool special effects, well-rounded characters, a thick yet comprehensible plot, and images that will stay with you for a long time. Well done Mr. Nolan. Keep them coming.

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