My 3rd time watching this movie! Yet, it still stunned my mind, kept me enjoyed its every moment and left me with many thoughts afterward.
For someone like me, who've rarely slept without dream, it's so exciting watching how Christopher Nolan had illustrated every single characteristic of dream on the big screen. As it's been done so sophisticatedly, I do believe the rumour that Nolan had spent 10 years to finish the script of Inception. In my opinion, it's been so far the greatest achievement in his brilliant writer-director career. I jumped into this conclusion after making a quick benchmark of Nolan's remarkable works:
- Memento, as his first signature in the cinema history, is tremendous and has stayed the most mind-bending film I've ever seen. But overall, it doesn't reach the same level of Inception.
- The Prestige is highly impressive but somehow I haven't been able to find the very particular "Nolan's spirit" in it.
- The Batman Trilogy is the best superhero saga of all time and its peak The Dark Knight is no doubt a masterpiece as well. Nonetheless, every time we talk about it, Heath Ledger takes all the spotlights with his life-time-role: The (unique-and-only) Joker.
- Then there came Inception where Nolan truly stood out, having every single detail of his work done in the finest way. The multi-layered storyline despite its complexity, remains consistent and originally interesting. From visual aspect, everything was masterly handled: an impeccable cross-cutting allowed the movie to follow Nolan's nonlinear story-telling without being scattered; a wonderful cinematography work completed with incredibly imaginative visual-effects brought into life so many breathtaking scenes, some of them, I believe, will stay in the audience's mind for a long time (city bending in Paris, zero-gravity fight, in limbo, dreams collapsing...). In addition, Nolan had also a solid cast ensemble to help him deliver all of his messages.
- Later, we had Interstellar. Though I did admire its cinematography and visual-effects, the film itself is nowhere near the level of Inception.
SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!! For all who haven't watched this movie, you may stop the reading right here because the following paragraphs contain a ton of spoilers!
It is set in the world where there's technology that allows people to literally share dream. There is, in this world, a new kind of corporate spy - "extractors" who use this technology to infiltrate the target's subconscious and extract valuable information through a shared dream world. Our hero Mr Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a very well-known extractor, and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are approached by a powerful businessman - Mr Saito (Ken Watanabe) for a nearly impossible mission, something no one has ever done before : instead of steeling, he wants them to plant an idea in a person's subconscious, which is also called "inception". In return, Saito offers something that Cobb could never resist: a ticket to go home with his children by taking out the homicide charge against him. So Cobb and Arthur gather a team to carry out the mission: Eames (Tom Hardy) - a veteran identity forger, Yusuf - the only one chemist can make such a powerful sedative for such a complex 3-levels "dream within a dream", and Ariadne (Ellen Page) - a newbie but remarkably talented architect whose role is critical for the success of the mission. The target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) - son and heir of Saito's biggest competitor (Maurice Fischer, who's dying). The goal is to seed an idea into his mind which will make him abandon his father's business, and the team has to carry Saito as visitor in their mission to let him verify the result of inception. While the team go deeper and deeper into Fischer's mind, we discover gradually the dark of Cobb's past, as well as the 2 biggest why concerning our hero: Why he has became such an expert of inception and What is his desperate motivation for taking that insane mission.
The movie is not only about the inception mission but more importantly, about the struggle of finding the way in the maze of life. In Cobb's case, it's the maze of dreams built by his memories with his past wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) and his regrets. So as long as he let himself consumed by the past by blaming himself for the death of his love wife, it will keep coming back and haunt his present: the deeper the team go into dream, the more dangerous his subconscious, under the form of his ghostly wife, comes out and could anytime jeopardize the mission. Indeed, if we apprehend the movie with these 2 layers of its story, the ending scene makes perfect sense. Yes! We're now talking about that famous ending which has still remained one of the most controversial movie endings in the cinema history. Did Cobb find Mr Saito in limbo, bring he back to complete the mission then come back to his children in the real world? Or they are still stuck in limbo - the infinite dream world, and the last scene was just his big dream? But all of those question only matter in the first layer of the story: the result of inception mission. When we perceive the story in its deeper layer, as a journey for Cobb to let go of his feeling of guilt for the past and re-find the meaning of his life, this ending did fulfill its job. Cobb didn't even stay to see either if the spinning top would fall because he didn't care any more, what's important to him is that he gonna be with his kids. He did finally get rid of his haunting past and be able to move on, and that matters. And after all, dream or reality, the importance is to truly live. So from this point of view, he has solved the maze of his life.
Some short lines about the cast:
- Leo has done justice to our main character but he did not success to make a leap from his previous similar roles in Shutter Island and Blood Diamond.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt could have been more intense, given the fact that he had the most astounding fight scene in the movie (zero-gravity sequence).
- There was something missing in Ken Watanabe's performance to portray the powerful man who sponsored the crazy mission. Maybe it was his English...
- Tom Hardy was OK but forgettable because his character didn't have any memorable moment though he had a lot of screen time.
- Ellen Page was really impressive, she did fully illustrate the cleverness and the keenness of the young brilliant architect. And personally, I did find a lot of charms in her acting.
- Cillian Murphy has also done a great job. Much more emotionally complex than just a target of the inception mission, his character Robert Fischer, at the end, was not so different than our hero Cobb. They both were struggling to find a way out of their own maze. If for Cobb, it was the painful past with his late wife; for Fischer, it was the grand shadow and the lack of recognition of his late dad.
- Last but not least, the one who impressed me the most was Marion. Mal was so beautiful and mysterious in a very unique haunting way, mostly with her speaking eyes! And for me, she is the most remarkable character of the movie.