Overview: A man capable of influencing dreams must perform what is thought to be impossible; planting an original thought in someone’s mind without them knowing. Warner Bros. Pictures. 2010. Rated PG-13. 148 Minutes.
A Unique Mind: Writer and director Christopher Nolan’s mind works on its own special level. Previous films from Nolan (Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight) have shown his ability to work well with mental and psychological elements. Inception takes these elements and expands on them exponentially. Nolan’s greatest gift, on full display here, is his ability to concoct this complex, layered labyrinth of ideas and successfully bring it to the screen in such a way that it is easily understandable to viewers.
The Idea: The general conceit upon which inception is built is itself a house of cards: Outside parties can gain entrance and access to a person’s mind through his/her dreams (referred to as “extraction”), which unfold at multiple levels of subconscious. One skilled enough in the art/science can implant an idea in a person’s mind where it will exist as an idea that they believe to be their own. Nolan isn’t just exploring this idea within the film; he is applying the concept to the viewer. The concept of this film on paper would be nearly incoherent. It is incredibly difficult for me to explain and analyze the idea on this platform without rambling on and on like a deranged lunatic. For one viewer to thoroughly explain it to another it would require the use of intricate graphs and diagrams to piece it together. Nolan enters the mind of the viewer and with his deft hand layers these complex ideas into a functional and artistic arrangement in our minds. As each piece falls into place we slowly begin to understand and then before we are aware; we believe and we are astounded.
Let’s Get Technical: Inception reaches its summer blockbuster status through sound technical contributions. The film is filled with several action set-pieces in varied locations that are backed by a grand, sweeping score from Hans Zimmer, intuitive editing by Lee Smith, and Oscar-winning cinematography from Wally Pfister.
Watch This Movie If: You like Memento, The Prestige, or you enjoy challenging your mind.
Final Thoughts: Inception is a highly intelligent summer blockbuster. It’s an action-filled mental thrill ride that will leave viewers breaking down its secrets long after it’s over.