Inception Movie Review

Reviews are ideally an assessment of a film’s value as entertainment or enlightenment, and should never be a necessary guide when attempting to figure out what in the world is going on in a movie. Such is the case with Christopher Nolan’s mind over matter blockbuster with a back to basics indie soul Inception, a confounding riddle of a story where the characters are lost inside one another’s dreams without a clue. Please, I think we already have enough trouble navigating the murky labyrinths of our own nightmares, and making it out of there with enormous relief by morning.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb in Inception, a futuristic new breed of corporate espionage industrial spy and professional dream bandit, contracted by corporations to steal rival conglomerate plans from inside adversary honcho minds. But Cobb now faces an unorthodox assignment from multinational robber baron Saito (Ken Watanabe), who sends him on a mission to plant rather than extract thoughts inside the head of competitor tycoon Fischer (Cillian Murphy) in order to dissolve his financial empire.

And the deal with Saito is pretty much an offer he can’t refuse, because Cobb is a hunted international fugitive implicated in the death of his wife (Marion Cotillard). And he’s desperate to return to the States with a fake passport Saito can arrange, in order to reunite with his young children. So Cobb schemes to infiltrate Fisher’s cerebral inner recesses, accompanied by sidekick Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a team of sleepwalker suits in confrontation with brawny enemy brainiacs. Along with newly recruited architectural dream weaver Ariadne (Ellen Page), apparently a whiz in homo sapien interior decorating.

Seemingly the opposite of writer/director Nolan’s Insomnia, this action driven yet at the same time somnambulant, messing with your mind scenario boasts intermittent astonishingly crafted imagery. Including a freight train barreling down a busy midtown street; a crew of cerebral predators floating in the air when not literally climbing the walls as if they’re lost and found astronauts having wandered in from The Right Stuff minus their space suits; and for some reason an hypnotic spinning secular dreidel tossed in too. But where this particular train derails, is when veering into Freudian territory and rambling on with overly intellectualized, endless screen lectures delving into the psychoanalytic dissection of the subconscious.

Because if there’s one thing more snooze inducing than being stuck as a spectator in somebody else’s dreams, it’s got to be getting imprisoned in their perpetual therapy sessions while engaged as mutual shrinks. Not to mention that we’ve all been there, done that when it comes to aggressive mind control, as in commercial advertising, subliminal and otherwise, attacking brain cells and getting inside our collective heads whenever you don’t happen to be sleeping.

While most movies turning up at the plexes these days insult viewer IQs by dumbing themselves down to appeal to some imagined lowest audience common denominator, the opposite holds true for Inception. That is, a what’s on your mind invasive sci-fi noir operating at a level so above and beyond what may be deemed viewer comprehension in determined convoluted complexity in the extreme, that head scratchers are likely to abound in the audience.

So is Inception accessible enough to plant the idea of an entertaining experience in viewer minds? In your dreams.

Warner Bros

Rated PG-13

2 [out of 4] stars

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.