The Captivation Of Inception

Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi classic film Inception continues to enthrall viewers ten years after its release in theaters (remember those?) in the summer of 2010.

When Inception was first teased, many were as intrigued by it as they are by Nolan’s upcoming film Tenet because the former film was so mysterious. The only thing shown to potential ticket buyers were images of people fighting in low-gravity conditions, cityscapes twisting and bending, and vague dialogue about dreams. This, along with Nolan’s filmmaking credentials, was enough to lure people into theaters and many were not disappointed by what they saw.

Inception stood out as a sci-fi actioner not just because of its mesmerizing visuals but for its complex plotline. For anyone who has not seen the film yet, the film starred Leonard DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, a corporate spy/thief whose specialty is to go into people’s minds while they’re dreaming and steal trade secrets or implanting suggestions. How this is done was not explained but Cobb and his team used a device that allowed them to enter the dreamscape of others. It was not important; what was notable was Cobb’s personal story and how he pulled off his latest and intricate caper.

Cobb was haunted by the death of his wife who was lost in the dreamworld and is desperate to return to the United States and reunite with his children. To do this, he has to complete one final mission, which is to enter the mind of his client’s corporate rival and influence him to break up his vast corporate empire.

The film spent a lot of time with explaining how Cobb and his team would enter their target’s mind and it involved going into dreams within dreams. Admittedly, this was quite complex and demanded careful attention, yet it made sense and was quite exciting. There were many complications as Cobb’s team stayed one step ahead of their foes. This involved perfectly executed car chases, stunts and an unforgettable fight scene in a hotel hallway between Cobb’s right hand man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a henchman that had them literally crawling along walls and defying gravity. This occurred because the dreamer at that moment was falling…don’t ask, it still looked great and this type of fight has been copied by other films and TV shows.

Other visual standouts were sequences where entire city blocks twisted upwards into sky as Dom Cobb explained how to navigate the dreamscape to his protegee, Ariadne (Ellen Page). Of course, this feat would be duplicated years later in Doctor Strange. This demonstrates how influential and revolutionary Inception was for its time. In some ways, the visual tricks it pulled off were the next step to those seen in The Matrix.

One reason as to why Inception was so captivating was the brilliant, Oscar-winning cinematography by Wally Pfister. It was best appreciated when seen on a large movie screen or better yet an IMAX screen. Another was the pounding music by Hans Zimmer, which was one of the composer’s best film scores.

As many wait for Christopher Nolan’s next film Tenet to come out, Inception will be re-released to pump up theater goers for Tenet and to herald the reopening of theaters. Of course, this will be muted because the coronavirus is still spreading and will probably keep most theaters closed at least in the United States. Be that as it may, no other film is better suited to be a companion piece to Tenet (from what we’ve seen in the trailers) as is Inception.

10 comments on “The Captivation Of Inception

  1. Hard to believe it’s been teen years since Inception came out and I vividly recall seeing it on opening night with friends. I rewatched the blu-ray recently and it totally holds-up and you can see how influential it became in terms of it’s inventive approach to SF action. The plot is still pretty dense and requires attention, which is no bad thing – I love it when there are movies you’ve seen countless times but still need to engage your mind!

    Bar an explosion in COVID 19 cases here in the U.K. (and there are signs of a rise in areas, much like in the U.S.) Tenet is locked in for release on 26th August…but as much as I want to see it on an IMAX screen, I’m a little reluctant at the thought of going to a cinema at present. Kind of wish it would have been delayed further, but then that doesn’t help the currently fragile movie theatre business. Tough times.

    • True, it is a risk to play the film in theaters and there isn’t a way to win. Delay the film and theaters are hurt or play it now and risk spreading the disease.

      One thing to consider is that theaters get most of their sales from concession sales which means you have to take off your mask to eat popcorn and risk spreading or catching the coronavirus. So theaters will probably think they might as well remain closed in the meantime.

      No easy solutions in this situation!

  2. In retrospect, I’ve started seeing Inception as a sci-fi indie movie with a blockbuster budget. The concept and story are more like the really good indie sci-fi movies out there, but it didn’t have the limited budget for VFX and cast that most indies deal with. It’s pretty impressive that the studio trusted Nolan enough to do that kind of project, even with his Dark Knight success.

  3. Pingback: Inception: Movie Review

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