Monday, August 2, 2010


To escape the 100 degree heat and torrential rain last Tuesday my friends and I headed out to the local theater to watch the new movie Inception. All I can say is, WOW.

For those unfamiliar with the movie's premise, our protagonists are thieves, but they don't steal paltry gems or rubies. Instead they leap into their victims' dreams using some poorly defined technology and extract the information that they need from the sleeper's mind. The heist that they are involved with at the beginning of the movie goes wrong, setting the pair up to being forced into a new contract with a difficult task at its core: Inception, the art of placing an idea in someone's head and making them believe that it was their's all along. To do so they have to hire a host of notable characters, leading to some quite epic scenes when the heist finally gets going.

Leonardo DiCaprio is the lead of the film and is a tortured man. A woman appears when he is on his missions, always ruining his chances at success. We soon find out that this is his late wife, whose death is inextricably tied up with dreams, betrayal and Inception. She lends a very menacing air to the movie, as DiCaprio's character can't be sure that the repressed memories in his mind won't come back to haunt him in a very physical sense.

The film has very rigorous internal logic that gets drilled into your head right from the beginning. I won't go into an indepth explanation, but there are rules to walking in people's dreams. Don't change too many things, the secret ideas are kept in a safe/protected location, and always, always have a way for you to wake up. You can even do dreams within dreams by having the characters "use" the dream technology inside a dream... though that can have its own consequences, as well.

The fact that they rely on dreams as the setting for most of the movie allows for some pretty crazy stunts. Since your senses are still intact any interference from the outside world has impacts on the dream world. Sleeping in a car that is screeching around a turn? The gravity in the dream starts coming from a sideways direction. Hear a song? It fills the air.

Of course, the logic they use doesn't really come from dreams- it comes more from a pastiche of different movies all blended into one. This is one of the neat aspects of the movie, at least to me. Since dreams are a comingled mishmash of influences from the real world it would only make sense that a movie about dreams would use other movies as its inspiration. So instead of impressionistic artsy sequences we get James Bond, Bourne and a host of other action (and some other genres) movies blended into one smart package.

This probably seemed a bit rushed and confused, but that's part of Inception as well. They switch from scene to scene as they cascade down the levels of a target's mind, each level containing unique geography and challenges, yet it all makes sense when scrolling in front of you on the screen. It's one of those movies that you are enraptured by while its on the screen and has you discussing it for hours after.