One night, Zhuangzi dreamed that he was a carefree butterfly, flying happily. After he woke up, he wondered how he could determine whether he was Zhuangzi who had just finished dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who had just started dreaming he was Zhuangzi. (Wikipedia: ‘Dream Argument’)
So goes an ancient rendering of a paradox that has intrigued philosophers for centuries. At it’s heart, the brilliant movie Inception (directed by Chris Nolan who brought us Memento and The Dark Knight) plays on this paradox. What is reality and what is dreaming? Which is the most real: when we are dreaming or when we are awake? How do we know, when we are awake, that we are not really dreaming?
For the first 15 minutes or so, Inception completely disorientates and we flick from scene to scene with constant shifting of perspective and confusion of what is real and what is not.
In the near future, the technology exists for entering into a person’s dreams and extracting hidden information from the subconscious. Dom Cobb (Leonardo diCaprio) has made good use of this technology by stealing secrets for corporate espionage. He’s made a lot of money but he is also constantly on the run and has given up all he holds dear for the “benefits” of crime. He is a highly sought-after mercenary.
Then Cobb is faced with the possibility of recovering his life and all he has lost. To do this, he needs to carry out a procedure that has possibly never been successful before, but that Cobb believes he can do — inception. Objective: enter into a person’s subconscious by entering his dreams and, rather than just stealing ideas, plant a subtle idea that leads to him carrying out something he would not normally do. Cobb agrees to carry out this procedure on a multimillion dollar oil company heir. The idea is to get him to split up the company following his father’s death. Will they be able to enter his dreams and carry out the objective without getting caught and maybe dying in the process itself? To do this he gets a team together and a plan…
Inception has been described as The Matrix crossed with James Bond — an apt description. This is one extraordinary movie! It explores the nature of dreaming; the paradoxes of humans “living” in their dreams and their connection to real life; the subconscious; the nature of persuasion; free will; and so much more. Join that with an incredibly complex plot and relentless action and suspense and you have got two-and-a-half hours of entertainment that seems over in minutes and that will have you thinking for weeks.
The acting is superb, the illusions brilliantly executed, the dream worlds beautifully rendered, the action suspenseful, and a story that is intellectually satisfying. Inception is a near-perfect movie. The only negative is that I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the characters. But this is a very minor flaw. Inception is going to become a classic of science fiction. After 101,964 votes by registered users on IMDB, Inception is now #3 in the list of the top 250 movies of all time. That should tell you something!
It is impossible to convey the depth and complexity of this movie. But while it is complex, Nolan has done a brilliant job in telling the narrative so we can follow along. Go and see this movie! Watch it on a big screen. And don’t fall asleep!
‘When was the last time you had your mind blown by a movie? Because when Inception ends and the lights come up, you'll be sitting in your seat, staring at the screen, wondering what the hell just happened.’ – Elizabeth Weitzman/New York Daily News
‘I'd like to tell you just how bad Inception really is, but since it is barely even remotely lucid, no sane description is possible.’ – Rex Reed/New York Observer [make sure you check out the reader comments below the review!]
sequences of violence and action throughout