By John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service
With "Inception" (Warner Bros.)—an action film resting on a science-fiction premise—writer-director Christopher Nolan achieves a tour de force of spectacle and suspense. But, like many a less-sophisticated offering in the action genre, this ingenious brainteaser is rife with explosions and gunplay.
Michael Caine and Leonardo DiCaprio star in "Inception."
The price of admission to this wild ride includes accepting that, by the use of a mysterious gadget, characters can enter and share other people's dreams as they sleep. The master of this futuristic art is Dom Cobb (played with striking intensity by Leonardo DiCaprio), a corporate spy who uses his skills to intrude into the minds of high-powered executives and extract their most treasured secrets.
But Cobb is also a fugitive whose tempestuous past—the details of which are revealed to us only gradually—has left him haunted by the specter of his deceased wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), and unable to return home to his two young children.
So when Japanese CEO and behind-the-scenes string-puller Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers to have his legal slate wiped miraculously clean in exchange for a successful mission targeting Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), heir to a rival business that threatens to undermine Saito's empire, Cobb accepts.
Instead of tricking Fischer into disgorging information, on this particular raid into the subconscious, however, Cobb must plant an idea in Fischer's head and make him believe it to be his own, a nearly impossible undertaking, which those in the know refer to as "inception." Cobb is assisted in this by his longtime partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and by a team of new collaborators—architecture student Ariadne (Ellen Page), experienced dream traveler Eames (Tom Hardy) and shady chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao).
With Mal, meanwhile, getting into the habit of making unexpected and unwelcome appearances in Cobb's dreams—her incongruous presence could immediately destroy the elaborately constructed illusion he and his crew have prepared for Fischer—Cobb is increasingly caught between his professional aptitude and his personal instability.
While taut, complex—by the latter stages of his drama, Nolan is deftly shuttling among four different adventures unfolding simultaneously at various levels of Fischer's consciousness—and undeniably crafty, "Inception" engages the imagination more than the heart. Thus, though the Freudian-style conflict between Fischer and his dying father is at least intermittently affecting, the bond between Cobb and Mal never quite rises to the level of a touching romance.
Still, adults in search of challenging fare, and not adverse to some (mostly stylized) mayhem, will likely find this cinematic Rubik's Cube quite intriguing.
The film contains much action violence, some of it bloody, several uses of profanity and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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