Time: 148 mins.
Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
SYNOPSIS: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind's vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming.
BOTTOM LINE: I've been a big fan of director Chris Nolan since his first mind/time-bending film MEMENTO. No one pushes the boundaries of visual effects to creatively tell a story than he does. However, his films, like some these days, are not only about the effects, they are always intelligently written with unique characters that attempt to say something about the human experience. While not everyone remembers their dreams, we all do it, so the concept of "stealing" from people while they sleep is a very clever one, and one that would allow him to explore his own imagination as to what the dream space would not only look like, but how people act in it. There are no physical limits in dreams and he takes full advantage of this fact. Unfortunately, the main idea is pretty much the only clever thing about this plot. While it's intriguing and exciting for awhile, it's not very complicated in the end.
It's merely the story of a man trying to assuage his guilt over the death of his wife, his one true love. The job he's hired to do – to provide "inception" into the mind of his client's rival – is just a long and involved gambit used to bring him on a journey that will solve his own problem and allow him to return to his children. The complexities of the dream within a dream within a dream within a dream, while initially cool, don't really matter at all. By the time he comes to his resolution and the supposedly "big reveal", I honestly no longer cared. Perhaps its because I really don't enjoy DiCaprio's acting style (which puts me in a distinct minority, I know) so I failed to truly connect with his emotional state.
However, the bigger problem is that despite how visually interesting the art direction and cinematography are once they go into the mind of their mark, it just took way too long to get to the point. Action movies should never be more than 2 hours long, I don't care how "complex" their plotting is. I was initially surprised the film didn't garner an Oscar nomination for Film Editing, until I remembered how interminable the third act was. I applaud Nolan for trying to make a sci-fi film with emotional depth, but it would have been much more powerful if the trip into Cillian Murphy's dreams was 20 minutes shorter.
While the success of this mission was imperative to Cobb's (DiCaprio) future, in the end it didn't have to be so complicated. Yes, it looked cool and that entranced me for a while, but it seems many scenes were kept in because of that fact instead of their necessity to the plot. I'm not sure what confused people about this movie. It seemed pretty straightforward to me. He ends up happy, whether in the real world or a dream state – who cares? INCEPTION is a great ride with interesting characters, yet it's not a film that resonates afterwards and isn't one that you can watch over and over once you know the secret – unlike some of Nolan's other work. That said, it is one of the better movies made in 2010 by a director I will always give up my time to watch. Frankly their aren't enough like him working in Hollywood today.