VOD film review: Inception
Ivan Radford | On 07, Oct 2014
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard
Watch Inception online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
So it’s a masterpiece. Right? Right. Ok, that’s the hype dealt with. Now, Christopher Nolan. It’s hard to think of many film-makers who could pull off a twisting tale of dreams-within-dreams. It’s even harder to name people who would attempt do it in the first place. Inception is a bold concept, deftly woven into a thrilling tale, and cleverly wrapped up as a blockbuster. It succeeds on every level.
From the moment we meet Cobb (DiCaprio), stealer of secrets from slumbering minds, a buzz sets in. The kind of buzz you get when you’re seeing an original idea unfold. Cobb is, of course, haunted by his own memories – a wife, Mal (Cotillard), and kids he can never see. So when a businessman, Saito (Watanabe), offers him the chance to go back home, he accepts.
The job? Inception. Not nicking an idea in someone’s head, but planting it.
Assembling a team of forgers and thieves, Cobb turns to the ambiguous Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) and snarky bad-ass Eames (Hardy). But the key to any heist is the architect, the one who builds the world of the dream. Enter Ariadne (Page), new girl of the group, who serves as our eyes and ears. Asking questions and planning out cities, she provides us with the necessary exposition, explaining the rules of Nolan’s Russian Doll structure. Then she folds Paris in half. On top of itself.
The visual trickery constantly astounds. So much so that your mind almost filters it out the first time you see the film, just so you can follow the breathtaking events. As soon as Cobb breaks into the brain of Robert Fischer (Murphy), guns are fired, vehicles destroyed. It turns out he’s got subconscious security, a defence against the technical trickery of Cobb’s crack ensemble. The fact that you don’t question such ludicrous terms as “subconscious security” says everything.
While bullets fly around them, the humans dive one level deeper, switching a blue-grey city for a swanky hotel. Not that this world is any simpler; everything ripples down the rabbit-hole, causing gravity to tumble, buildings to topple, and corridors to rotate. And that’s before Cobb’s wife pops up, threatening to tear everything apart with a vengeful glare.
Packing each brand new place with pulse-pounding action, Nolan lets rip – with a budget the size of the Batcave to play with, he’s limited only by his imagination. It turns out he can imagine a lot.
Thanks to Wally Pfister’s eye, the cinematography serves the cyclical script as well as Zimmer’s score and the exceptional cast. DiCaprio anchors the story with emotional gravitas – like Scorsese’s Shutter Island, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in his role. Gordon-Levitt makes a meaty cipher out of ostensibly being a sidekick, while Elliot Page breaks free from Juno as the fast-thinking, likeable Ariadne. Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe pack impressive punches with far fewer lines, a feat topped only by Michael Caine’s equally confident cameo. And underneath it all, Marion Cotillard haunts the screen as Cobb’s fatal spouse, a tragic core that gives this smoke-and-mirrors tower its foundation.
But the star of the show is, without a doubt, Tom Hardy, who just gets better every time you see him on screen. He lies, charms and shoots with a swagger that comes from loving what he’s doing – it’s especially obvious in a Bond-esque ski sequence, which proves he could be 007 in his sleep.
Right up to the riveting house of cards climax, Nolan pelts us with questions of philosophy and guilt. But Inception never gets bogged down by its themes – the plot demands your attention. That’s arguably it’s biggest flaw, but that’s also the genius of Nolan’s best work. It dares to dream bigger than its blockbuster restraints; it forces its ambition into a mainstream container, one that rewards you for your effort, even when you revisit it for the umpteenth time. All the depth and scope of Solaris, slotted neatly into some of the best action sequences since the original Matrix? Inception is an impossible, intelligent, absurd dream. It’s a heist movie. And the movie is the heist.
Inception is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.