Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Inception

So where does one start with a movie like Inception? It’s arguably the most anticipated film of this summer, if not the entire year. Without revealing terribly much in the clips and trailers (thankfully!) it’s been one of the most hyped films of the year as well – if not by the studio, then by movie news sites (including this one) and their readers. Following a monster hit like The Dark Knight is a heck of a task for Christopher Nolan, who not only directed Inception but wrote and produced it as well.

Well now that it’s done and hitting theaters, I believe Mr. Nolan can relax – because this film is all kinds of awesome.

This is one of those movies that’s difficult to review without revealing at least some minor spoilers, so be warned. It won’t be anything that will even remotely ruin the film for you, but I do have to bring up a few things in order to describe the story. Let’s start by explaining exactly what “Inception” is in the film: It is the process of imbedding a thought in the mind of a subject in such an incredibly subtle manner, that they end up thinking that they came up with it on their own. No, don’t think hypnotism, this is a much more sophisticated thing. As a matter of fact, Nolan makes a point to get at least one “oh, I know what this is going to be” thought out of your head within the first few minutes of the film: This is much more than the old dream within a dream plot line.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Cobb, a man who works with a team stealing corporate secrets from the minds of executives while they sleep. The 1984 film Dreamscape may come to mind, but things are much more complex here. In order to retrieve what Cobb’s clients want, he can’t just enter the dreamworld of the subject and poke around until he finds it – an “architect” is required to construct a world and settings that will lead the subject where Cobb wants him to go, and there is a backup man who also goes into the dream (Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur) in case something goes wrong or it’s a two man con game.

As the film opens, we find that Cobb has failed in his mission for a client for the first time ever, and for this failure the corporation is out to kill him. Besides the obvious, Cobb has another problem: He is the father of two small children who he has not seen in quite a while yet both of whom he loves very much. Sadly for him, the last place he can go is back to the United States to be with them (there is another major reason as well). However an opportunity to fix all that lies between him and his children presents itself in the form of Asian corporate mogul Saito (Ken Watanabe). If Cobb does an almost impossible job for him, Saito is powerful enough to call the dogs off Cobb and to fix everything so he can return to his family.

The plan involves implanting a thought in the mind of one Robert Fischer Jr (Cillian Murphy), the son of a competitor who is on his deathbed and whose death will make the rival corporation so powerful it will rival that of a government. To carry off this plan, Cobb needs a new architect and an additional partner – so he finds his old teacher (Michael Caine) who despite misgivings points Cobb to a young woman named Ariadne who has inherent skills surpassing those of Cobb himself (Ellen Page). While hesitant at first, she becomes intoxicated with the idea of being able to create worlds as if a god, and signs on for the task at hand.

From there begins the exceedingly complex and multi-layered process of not only building the world in which they will place Fischer Jr, but the script they will have to follow in order to lead him to an initial seed of a subconscious thought that will eventually grow to a major, conscious decision that he would not otherwise make. The story is riveting and will take you through one level after another, until you’re not quite sure where, exactly, you are.

Continue reading our review of Inception

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a scene from 'Inception'


While much of the film feels somewhat “cold,” DiCaprio is the emotional touchpoint for the audience – he’s a tortured man, not only due to the separation between him and his children, but the death of his wife, with whom he was very much in love. While the male members of this little band are oblivious, Ariadne becomes aware of these deep emotional issues that Cobb is going through – and the fact that they are so deep that they may seep into their combined dream world and risk not only the mission but all their lives.

Christopher Nolan has crafted an incredibly complex and layered film that although it runs just about 2 1/2 hours, does not feel like it’s that long due to its excellent pacing. That is not to say that it moves at breakneck speed, but that the film opens up before you like an architectural marvel, with something more fascinating and engaging in the next room than the one you’re currently in – with every subsequent room being more interesting than the last.

If you still picture DiCaprio as the kid in Titanic, you really need to update your point of view – he’s turned into a solid, gritty actor with an air of gravitas. Everyone gives excellent performances here… Joseph Gordon-Levitt is suitably intense, although he’s not given much to work with. Ellen Page was good, not great – but again, she wasn’t given enough to do to really let her spread her wings. I particularly enjoyed Tom Hardy’s character and performance – he was the guy that really understood how to cut loose in the dream world.

Hans Zimmer’s music fits the film wonderfully, helping to carry along the story and pacing. Nolan’s cinematography was beautiful and creative, and some of the visual effects scenes (in particular the floating hallway scene from the trailer) makes similar scenes from The Matrix look old school (yes, I realize The Matrix is over 10 years old now).

It’s one of those films that warrants multiple viewings to let everything sink in. Is it absolutely perfect? No, but any minor issues melt away in the overall experience of the film. It will entertain you while at the same time challenging you. And all without the gimmick of 3D. And for those of you going to see this based on your love of The Dark Knight: While Inception is a different type of movie, the latter is indeed better than the former. If you’re hungry for a film that has action, mystery and respects the audience, I highly recommend you go see Inception.

Inception is rated PG-13 and there is nothing too objectionable for kids, although if you bring children under the age of 10 or so you’re probably wasting your money as this is not going to be their cup of tea.

If you want to discuss the film in all its detail without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it yet, and want to discuss what really happened in the film, head on over to our Inception Explained Discussion article.

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Finally, I’ll leave you with our very own custom-edited, extended Inception trailer:

Our Rating:


5 out of 5
(Masterpiece)