After films like The Prestige and Memento (remade here as Ghajini), and not to forget The Dark Knight, Chrisopher Nolan is the master of the mind-bending thriller. His ideas are audacious, his writing intricate and his filmmaking truly genre-breaking. Where, you wonder, does he come up with ideas like that!
At one level Inception has all the elements of a thriller, espionage, chases, shoot-outs, intrigue. But it all happens in a dreamscape that Nolan creates in the minds of his characters. And since the human mind cannot be completely controlled, no matter how much science advances, emotions can come in the way of best laid plans.
Inception is what is now called a high concept film—it works round the idea that if it is possible to remove ideas from a human brain, it is possible to do the reverse-plant an idea. And this can be used to destroy as well as to create.
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) can enter the dreams of his ‘subject’ and alter his waking reality. He is assigned by a Japanese businessman (Ken Watanabe) to destroy the empire of his rival Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) by having him break away from his father.
Cobb and his cohorts (Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy), Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and a newly Adriane (Ellen Page) enter Fischer’s mind, but Cobb’s dead wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), haunts his dreams and pops up at the wrong moments. This can endanger the mission.
They enter deeper levels of subconscious, and that allows for extravagant set pieces, but after a point, it all seems just a bit tedious. It is perhaps hard to grasp it all in one viewing, but the film, dazzling though it is, may not induce second-viewing pangs in most viewers.
Inception is the kind of film that evokes admiration and awe, but perhaps not universal adoration. And when you think about it, the meticulously crafted framework of sci-fi logic may not really hold up. There is a technique of lace-making that involves making tiny knots in the thread, but one wrong knot and the whole thing has to be discarded. Inception is something like that.