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Inception
Genre Action
Year: 2010
 
Review:

in-cep-tion [in-sep-shuh n]
noun - beginning; start; commencement.

When Christopher Nolan releases a movie the world stops and takes notice... The director started making films when he was just seven-years-old and 33 years down the line he's still doing what he loves with only several feature length films to date. A short filmography by Hollywood standards, but when you consider Stanley Kubrick only made 16 films in 5 decades it puts Nolan's career in perspective. Just like Kubrick, Nolan's films carry some serious weight, in substance and in return. Unlike Kubrick, Nolan's films have managed to bridge the great divide... conjoining the big budget allure of a traditional blockbuster with the finesse of an art house production.

With such titles as Insomnia, Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and now Inception under his belt it seems as though he can't go wrong with his dark surge of films that just seem to get better-and-better. Nolan's been attached to the new dawn of Batman in a scourge of films that literally tear previous efforts apart with a realistic depiction of superheroes. The comic book heroes of the '50s have gravitated from tongue-in-cheek fantasy to epic crime sagas in the hands of Nolan. His dark, titanic and revolutionary films have raised the bar when it comes to film-making in the genres of crime and fantasy.

Inception is Nolan's first wholly original film since Following with a script that took 8 years to complete. The story follows Dom Cobb (DiCaprio), who enlists a dream team and sleep technology to enable him to enter the subconscious of the unsuspecting and steal their thoughts. When he is commissioned with inception, the arduous task of planting a thought in someone's mind, he inadvertently agrees to change the course of history. His special ops crew are met with unexpected resistance as ghosts of the past resurface and security measures ratchet up a notch in a do-or-die mission.

The first thing you'll notice about Inception is the quality of production, from its powerful soundtrack and special effects to the big name cast. Inception is a Matrix within a matrix, comparable with the 1999 Sci-Fi classic for its title, paradigm-shifting scenario, stylistic elements, action-packed agenda and co-dependent relationship with CGI. The dream/reality pendulum swings back-and-forth from one world to the next as one reality is substituted by another. The result is unsettling as one is seamlessly cast from a dream state environment back to reality with only a keepsake able to differentiate the two.

The cast is led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who has become hot property in Hollywood with a growing list of solid-to-excellent performances since Gangs of New York in 2002. DiCaprio has aligned himself with Martin Scorsese as a partner-in-crime. The two have forged an alliance, partnering on several quality productions, which include: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and most recently Shutter Island. It's becoming increasingly difficult for awards committees to ignore DiCaprio's run of solid performances.

DiCaprio is supported by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page with Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine in what almost seems like an Ocean's Eleven team. This is an A-grade ensemble of serious contenders, who all maintain a level of precision and composure when it comes to performance. Several Oscar nominees and winners reinforce Inception's credibility and command solid support performances to augment DiCaprio's role as team captain. The level of performance is so good that it would be unfair to say there are any stand-out performances from the group, who all function well as a team.

Inception has its own style, tending towards darker hues and a grayed-out vision of the future. The setting is quite timeless with fashion and architecture representing a 50 year scope on history. There's an affinity for detailed textures and clean surfaces as chic Parisian urban backdrops make way for lavish homes and hotels. Inception has a strong connection with architectural lines and urban living, opting for contrasts between claustrophobic city living and the absent surreal emptiness of Hopper artworks. This gives the world of Inception a precise, clean and surreal texture, which is laced together by fine performances.

The soundtrack is powerful, adding gravity to the dazzling visual aesthetic and forwarding Nolan's agenda with great purpose like a rising night tide. The music raises the impetus of the special effects and heightens the dream state with its swirling magnitude. This helps establish the film, creates a definite mood and provides a seamless ebb-and-flow, effortlessly blending from one scene to the next like sand in an hourglass.

The CGI deserves equal credit and it's as if Nolan personally ran through the film frame-by-frame to ensure authenticity, scrapping any hint of second-rate CGI. This gives Inception a sense of truth, suspending the dream reality without ever leaving any space for doubt. Nolan arrests the audience with his grand direction pulling each department together as if by strings like a symphony conductor. The breathtaking action visuals, the fine performances, the vivid dream overture and the balanced direction all come together beautifully.

Inception may not be as imaginative or surreal as The Cell or anything from Lynchland. Nolan probably steered clear of warped environments to keep even keel for maximum worldwide appeal. All-in-all it's a fine balance between blockbuster and art house, which helps create a tension between the real and the unreal as three movie climaxes reach the apex simultaneously. Several film references function as deja vu with Murphy wearing a sack cloth, Cotilliard's presence with Edith Piaf's music and an echo from some of the character's previous roles.

Inception is executed with such precision that it's difficult to fault the film. Apart from its rigidity within the dream atmosphere, a slightly long run-time, a leap of faith in dream technology and its strong parallels with The Matrix... it's almost flawless. Nolan has demonstrated once again why the majority of his films deserve a place in everybody's top 100 movie list, a second and possibly even a third viewing.

The bottom line: Majestic.

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