Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Cinematography: Wally Phister
Original Score: Hans Zimmer
Running Time: 148 Mins.
Christopher Nolan is, if further proof were needed, a genius of his medium for few other film-makers, certainly modern-day film-makers, are able to simultaneously achieve so many things through a single film let alone his full body of work. Since exploding onto the scene with Memento (and Following, his little seen debut) Nolan has always pushed boundaries with narratives that uncoil to reveal much going on under the surface of what is always a compelling story to begin with. Memento unfurled backwards, Insomnia was a remake that defied expectation and offered so much more beyond a mere rehash as well as introducing us to Nolan’s keen eye for direction that was never flashy but always outstanding.
Subsequent films only served to enhance both visuals and narratives, for what other director could take a superhero film and make it so deep, if Batman Begins was great, The Dark Knight provided us with a modern masterpiece on all fronts, culminating in the perfect mix of spot on casting, gripping storytelling and visuals that were bombastic and served the story, he even pushed technological boundaries filming sequences in IMAX format helping further enhance the experience. The question was, after such astounding success where to next for Nolan. Well as they say, the only way is up!
If The Dark Knight was Nolan’s masterpiece, it is hard to give Inception a title that recognises enough credit to the sheer achievement it attains, a lot of hyper-boles for sure but each and every one is deserving and leaves me unsure where to start in praising what is surely the perfect mix of blockbuster entertainment and intelligent film-making like never before seen. Revealing too much, if any, of Inception’s carefully constructed plot would and could quite easily be classed as a spoiler for if ever a film were best viewed with no previous knowledge this is it.
With this in mind, I shall be as cryptic as possible but suffice to say Inception is essentially a heist film that sees Cobb (DiCaprio) assemble a team who eahc has his or her own special skill that allows nor for something to be stolen but for something to be planted in the hope that it will elicit great change, without delving any further into plot mechanics let’s just say that this is not a planting of something (the Inception of the title) as simple as a bank. My unwillingness to reveal more than this will become apparent upon first viewing, for the surprises the story holds are where the sheer joy of Inception comes from.
Though this is not to say that ou will be met with a Shyamalan style twist that turns the whole film on its head and demands viewing in a different light, much like DiCaprio’s last film Shutter Island did, Inception is not as showy a film in that sense, it never once screams how clever it is and pulls the rug from beneath you, what it does have in common with Shutter Island in some cracking direction and some of the years best editing, something which really comes into it’s own in the films final third which also holds this years “wow” moment that will make you feel all tingly if you are even half the film geek/cinephile that I am.
The cast as to be expected is uniformly top-notch, and if some are left as mere ciphers with little background this is intentional and never makes you empathise any less with them, rather you will watch the final reel craving more and imagining for yourself the lives the characters will lead in the aftermath of the events they have partaken in. Special mention has to go to Gordon Levitt who is long overdue a super-star making turn, and my rallying cry to have him replace Ledger as the Joker in a future Batman film remains, he exudes all the qualities the late Heath ledger did albeit in his own ubiquitous style.
So while DiCaprio is as intensely watchable as ever, and all around hold their own against him in each unique way, they really are second fiddle to the films real star, Nolan himself. It is in film’s like Inception that my love for the medium pervades and continues to thrive, this is a real experience, so much more than “just” a film, it is masterfully crafted in script (as Memento was), but add to this the director’s capability behind the camera, the editing, the presentation of his work, this is a director of the very best calibre at the very top of his game and you would be a fool to miss the experience Nolan, and indeed cinema, offer ever so rarely offer to the loyal audiences that pay for tickets in the hope that cinematic greatness can be achieved on all levels.
The kind of film that makes you realise why you liked films in the first place, we should be thankful for Nolan’s skills as both writer and director and revel in the visuals the creative wealth of ideas that are bound within Inception’s fantastic narrative in a film that demands mulitple viewings to fully appreciate all it’s wonders.