As I mentioned in my post yesterday, last night my wife and I went and saw Inception. For those who haven't heard, it's a sci-fi psychological action thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Watanabe Ken, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (the new Batman director).
It involves criminals who live by using a shared dream technology to rob secrets from important people, which they call 'extraction.' Cobb (DiCaprio) and his team are hired by a faceless corporation to steal something from Saito's (Watanabe) mind. Of course it doesn't go as planned. Saito was expecting them, and used their attempted extraction as a sort of job interview. He wants Cobb and his team to attempt 'inception' or implanting an idea in someone's head so that they think it's their own idea.
Cobb's partner Arthur thinks it's impossible, but Cobb knows it can be done, although it's dangerous. They put together a new team, and come up with a plan to insert the idea that the heir of a big company should break up his company when his father dies (Saito's company is the sole remaining competitor to the would-be world monopoly, so he wants this badly).
Cobb has a criminal record and can't return to the U.S. and his children, but Saito promises to fix it if the job is done. They recruit some help, including an architect named Ariadne to construct the dream space, a criminal named Eames to be a general troubleshooter, and a chemist named Yusuf to put them all under long enough to create the inception on a deep level of Fisher's mind.
Of course, Cobb's troubled past haunts him, and causes lots of complications along the way.
I dont' want to spoil any more of the plot than I may have already, so I'll stop there.
From an audience point of view, the movie can be a bit confusing. It switches from reality to dream-space, and deals with dreams within dreams (Toyotomi Hideyoshi would be proud). In that respect, it's somewhat similar to the Matrix movies, or Total Recall. They all deal with questions of what's real, and what's only created in the mind.
I was able to follow everything, but my wife had a bit of trouble keeping it all sorted. The ending leaves the audience to draw their own conclusions, which is a nice touch (again, reminiscent of Total Recall).
The acting was superb. I think DiCaprio did a fine job, if a little overly intense at times. His 'Little Leo' days are hopefully behind him. The rest of the cast, including several actors Nolan had used previously in his Batman films, also gave solid performances. The writing was well done, with no blatant plot holes anywhere, snappy dialogue when called for, and just enough exposition to make the audience understand without losing them with technobabble.
Christopher Nolan has put together a great little sci-fi film, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is nominated for an Oscar or two.
See this movie if: You like cerebral sci-fi, movies about reality and metaphysics, or just a good movie that will leave you thinking at the end.
Skip it if: You just want a popcorn flick to have some fun during the summer (The Expendables looks good for this--and I'm looking forward to it for just that reason!)