Christopher Nolan, known for directing the legendary movies Memento, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, has done it again with his new movie Inception. The writing, direction, special effects, and ability to create a believable reality within the science fiction genre, make Christopher Nolan a force to be reckoned with, and certainly an Oscar contender.
As a writer, plot is very important to me. One of the most disappointing things about movie-going is to see an action or science fiction movie that lacks a good story. For example, and I know some people will have my head for this, but Avatar, despite it’s amazing special effects and new advancements in CGI technology, lacked an original storyline. I felt like I was watching Fern Gully; it was a recycled plot about the exploitation of natural resources, with a typical “star-crossed lovers” love story.
However, Inception delves into the sci-fi of the dream world in a unique and even realistic way. What the characters deal with psychologically and emotionally is plausible, and the actors do a phenomenal job of unravelling the complexities of coping with the human psyche. There are symbolic elements in the movie to make the story even sharper, such as the “totem” which determines whether you are in a dream or in the real world. The classic representation of the subconscious as the open sea – wild and unpredictable – is also aptly done.
The repetition of phrases and emotion-filled memories replicates what many people experience in the dream state, or when they are dealing with emotional trauma. Further, the use of silence and visual cues, expertly conveyed by the actors, contributes to the overall mysterious atmosphere of the movie, where you are never truly sure what is real and what is imagined.
Although some elements of the plot and action are derivative of The Matrix series, I think of them as more of a commemorative “toast” to the Wachowski brothers, who pioneered so many new ideas and techniques in their movie making. Like The Matrix, Inception explores the choice between living in a world we create through our imagination, or to live in the “real” world, with all of its limitations on both morality and mortality. In addition, Nolan’s film organically creates action scenes; using wires and an infinite number of cameras, characters fight mid-air in a hotel hallway, similar to the subway station scene in The Matrix. This gives the movie a more natural feel than CGI.
The comedic conflict between Arthur and Eames will certainly have audiences laughing out loud, while home-grown Ellen Page delivers a stellar performance as an innocent student whose intelligence and gumption lead her to a better understanding of the human mind than most characters in the movie. To me, Leonardo DiCaprio is a seasoned actor who is as good as it gets, and he lives up to the high standard he set for himself in movies such as The Departed and Shutter Island. Other standout performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (from 500 Days of Summer), Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard, are not to be missed.