Skip to main content


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.


Popular posts from this blog

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #85: Blue Velvet

Exactly how do you describe a David Lynch movie? He is one of the few directors whose style is so distinctive that his last name has become an adjective. According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of Lynchian is: “having the same balance between the macabre and the mundane found in the works of filmmaker David Lynch.” To see a prime example of that adjective film lovers need look no further than Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), which does indeed begin in the mundane before slowly sinking in macabre violence.
My first introduction to the world of David Lynch was through his ground breaking, but unfortunately interrupted, early 1990s TV series Twin Peaks. This was one of the first television shows to grab viewers with a series-long mystery: who killed Laura Palmer? A mix of soap opera, police procedural, and the supernatural, it is a unique show that showed the darkness hidden in suburbia and remains influential to this day. Featuring Kyle MacLachlan as an FBI investigator with a love for …

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #90: When Harry Met Sally...

There is an age-old question regarding whether single men and women can be just friends. In real life the answer is obviously “yes,” but in movies and TV the answer always has to be that at some point two single characters will get attracted to each other and move beyond friendship. On TV I find this to be contrived and overused, but some movies can have a lot of fun with the concept, most notably Rob Reiner’s comedy classic When Harry Met Sally…(1989). It may not change your view on love and friendship, but it forever changed the meaning of the phrase “I’ll have what she’s having.”
On paper this film’s premise sounds like another rom-com, but seen by oneself during an evening of Netflix binging it does make you think about deep stuff like the long-term impact of your decisions on your life. A person you meet during a tense trip might turn up again sometime later down the road in the most unexpected ways. If there is one thing I believe in it is infinite possibilities, and Nora Ephron…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #83: Brazil

Dystopian movies from the 1980s are a funny thing since we now live in the future of those movies and if you look at the news for more than five minutes it will feel as though we are one bad day away from being into a dystopia. On the plus side, if it ends up looking like the dystopia portrayed in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) at least we will have lovely architecture to look at while the government is busy telling us how to think. This might not be a movie that will cheer you up, but the production design is amazing, the performances are great throughout, and you get to see Robert DeNiro play a maintenance man/freedom fighter.
I first saw Brazil as a Terry Gilliam double feature at the Universit√© de Sherbrooke’s movie club paired along with 12 Monkeys around ten years ago. Those two films are similar in that they both feature a rather dour future and, as with most Gilliam movies, incredibly intricate sets. However the dystopian future in Brazil is somewhat scarier than the disease-ra…