'Buckle your seat belt Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is is going bye-bye.'
Wow! Inception is a stylised collision of Bourne meeting the The Matrix.
Cobb is on top of his game - the best there is. In becoming the best he has journeyed to places no-one wants to see and feelings of guilt, remorse and his need of redemption are the emotions that drive this story. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan this was never going to be a straight forward walk-in-the-park kind of film. The ensemble cast perform very well together - DiCaprio inhabits a rich vein of performing talent at the moment and his character (Cobb) drives the narrative. Ellen Page (Ariadne) and Tom Hardy (Eames) are also particularly impressive. The story conceptualisation is worthy of award nomination as is the consistent application of CGI which unifies the five dimensions or worlds the story simultaneously unravels through.
Cobb is a thief. His area of expertise is applying a form of military intelligence gathering come interrogation technology to the world of corporate espionage. The technology links people connected to a machine who are able to share a dream together. The dreamer is the architect of the dream which is populated by manifestations of the dreamers sub-concious over which of course they have no control. Encounters within this dream world are used to delve deep into co-dreamers minds to extract secrets, plant lies and whatever else the pay-master desires - inception. The trick is to render the 'target' unconscious in the real world - sometimes enhanced by sedatives for a deeper dreaming experience - and then hook them up to the machine.
In a dream an hour in real-world time lasts 10 hours in the dream enabling much to accomplished. Unless the target is trained or has anti-dream counter-measures in place, on waking they feel as though it was just a dream - but by then the damage has been done. Each dreamer fashions a totem that they always carry with them and can use to determine whether or not they are awake or dreaming.
Cobb once went too far with his wife (Mal) who through Cobb's accidental auto-suggestion lost the ability to distinguish between dream states and the real world locking her totem in a safe. She is stuck in Limbo - the deepest dream state with no clear prospect of escape. Cobb struggles to limit the intrusion of Mal from his sub-conscious into any dream that he is in but she always breaks through and wrecks his plans. Accused of her murder back home, Cobb is a global fugitive with many trying to track him down.
Cobb receives an invitation for one last final job of corporate espionage - the pay-off for him would be a wiping of the slate with the US authorities and the chance for him to return home to his two children - a lure too attractive to resist. I'm not going to describe how the story plays out but I will include a PLOT SPOILER about the end so only read on from here if you're happy with that.
Cobb travels the world to assemble a team for this ultimate job. Together they plot and determine that they need a dream that goes to a third level of dreaming - so deep it's just before the limbo state, a dream within a dream, within a dream. All of their planning can never anticipate the interventions that Mal brings to any dream that Cobb is in because she is such a strong part of Cobb's sub-conscious. Following the story is difficult enough without wild cards being played all the time! Suffice it to say that in the end Cobb needs to enter limbo to bring about the successful conclusion of the mission the team is on and to exorcise his own personal demons relating to Mal.
The film ends with Cobb returning to the USA and the family home. As he arrives in the kitchen he spins a brass top - Mel's totem . If it eventually stops spinning Cobb is in the real world, it doesn't, it's a dream. The children see him and run to him for an emotional reunion. As that the hugs and kisses continue, the camera pulls back to the spinning top. It hiccups and the screen goes black and the credits roll. Was it about to topple or was it simply a hiccup and it continues for ever? You decide - but I think the answer will come in the sequel that is now nicely set up.
Any story that forces us into the sub-conscious is an invitation to delve deeper than we would perhaps choose to do. What lurks in your sub-conscious? What regrets and fears do we carry with us every day? How do they manifest themselves when they invade the conscious world of our experience? How do you cope with that? If you could enter your sub-conscious and expunge your demons, would you? What price would you be willing to pay? What would be the consequences and would you be any less the person you were before or would be more integrated and so more of the true person you feel yourself to be? Films like this are invitations to screw with your inner workings. If you really want to do that, go and see a therapist.
A great film - well conceptualised, scripted, acted and shot. Go and see it - but take your totem with you!
I'll give it 9/10!