Saturday, July 17, 2010
Writer, director and producer Christopher Nolan, who gave us The Dark Knight and all its glory, is back with another imaginative world -- this time, the visually-stunning world of dreams. Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island) stars as Dom, a thief-for-hire who can extract corporate secrets from sleeping minds. But Dom has a secret of his own -- one that is preventing him from being reunited with his children. Now he is given a chance to have his personal dream fulfilled -- if he can complete an assignment from a tycoon, played by Ken Watanabe (Letters from Iwo Jima). But there's a twist -- Dom must work with a team to plant an idea into the mind of an unsuspecting heir to a business empire (Cillian Murphy) -- an inception, rather than an extraction.
With amazing detail, Nolan has created a very stylized, multi-layered thriller. The architecture of the dreams is something to behold -- with all the CG tricks and real-location beauty working together for brilliant results. But the movie excels on more than extraordinary visuals and exciting action. DiCaprio turns in yet another strong performance -- and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) is exceptional as his long-suffering wife, Mal.
But is Inception a great movie? Not exactly -- but it's a very good one. Sure, it has the most original material of any movie so far this year, but it still borrows from action movies that have previously dabbled in the space-time continuum arena -- most notably, The Matrix. I also found casting a bit odd. I loved supporting players Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer and Ellen Page in Juno and Whip It -- and they're fine here, but at times I felt that they seemed too young to carry their more adult roles. And a favorite of Nolan, two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine (Alfred in the Batman series) was also sadly underutilized this time around. Finally, clocking in at nearly two-and-a-half hours, an overly-long opening sequence could have been trimmed a bit to give the film a tighter fit. But these are minor issues -- and Inception should not be overlooked. It's a big-screen must -- and I recommend seeking it out on IMAX to maximize appreciation of Nolan's amazing dream world. [Rated PG-13; in theaters now]