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Inception: Incredibly Overhyped?

15 Aug

Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster has had everyone talking about it – from those who write it off as “too confusing” to those who hail it a “cornerstone in Hollywood film making”. After the film shot into the top 3 on film website IMDB, I had to find out what all the fuss was about for myself.

The premise; Leonardo DiCaprio is Cobb, the leader of a skilled team of extractors who specialise in entering people’s minds when they are dreaming in order to steal information from the subconscious. He is the best at what he does, until he is offered the ultimate challenge; to do exactly the opposite. Instead of extracting an idea from a person’s mind, he is instead requested to plant the idea. Hence, Inception.

Cue a heist unlike one you’ve ever seen before. Cobb and his team, including Arthur (Joseph Gordan-Levitt) and Ariadne (Ellen Page) set about creating a plan, to penetrate the mind deeper than anyone else has gone before, in order to ensure that the subject on waking will believe that he came up with the idea all by himself.

But, strangely enough, the inception itself does not really come across as the main focus of the film. Poor old Leo is a man troubled, harassed by guilt over the death of his wife (Déjà vu Shutter Island anyone?). Wanted for the murder of said wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), Cobb lives a life on the run, where his only real happiness comes from living in dreams of his memories of their time together. Unable to return home for fear of arrest, Cobb hasn’t seen his two young children in years. His last hope to return home lies on whether he can successfully achieve the inception.

And so we have the set up – unadulterated action mixed with raw emotion, with a large dose of dreamlike reality thrown in. The phrase edge-of-your-seat has never been so apt, as a sense of fraught tension kept me on tenterhooks throughout the entire running time (a rather on the long side 148 minutes). But that is not to say that Inception is a new and unique experience, as so many have claimed it to be. The film holds elements from many past pictures – the action-packed, reality-bending of The Matrix, the mysterious haunted past of Shutter Island and the confused and fragmented approach of Nolan’s own Memento.

An off-putting element for me was the huge amount of action scenes; car chases, blowing things up – you name it, you’ll find it in Inception. And although these scenes are always done well, I found myself often wondering if there really was a need for it all, as at times they simply seemed to detract from the rich, multi-layered tale. Still, the film is gripping and intriguing and well worth a watch, particularly if you are a fan of Nolan’s previous work. Oh, and there’s some pretty interesting ideas about dreams and reality in there somewhere too.

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