Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 148 min
Release Date: 12/7/2010 (Blu-Ray)
In the world of Inception, DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a man who has made it his specialty to steal secrets, directly from the minds of his targets. Cobb is an extractor, an individual who with the help of a drug called Somnacin is able to enter into shared dreams with his targets and steal information by manipulating the subconscious mind. Cobb's motivation for extraction is not money, but a means to return to his children, he is a wanted man in the United States and must find a way home. The film opens to Cobb and Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) having dinner with a wealthy Japanese businessman, Mr. Saito (Watanabe). Cobb attempts to explain to Saito that extraction is a very real threat, and that he should hire him to train his subconscious in order to fend off any attempts at extraction. Saito listens to the proposal and excuses himself, leaving the room. Arthur turns to Cobb and informs him that Saito knows, Cobb shrugs this off and informs Arthur not to worry. In the ensuing scenes we learn that Cobb and Arthur are actually sharing a dream with Saito, their goal being to steal corporate secrets for one of his competitors, Cobol Engineering.
Cobb makes the attempt to steal the information despite Saito's awareness but is caught in the act by Mal (his wife), who we are lead to believe is actually dead. Cobb attempts to escape with the information but the dream begins to collapse due to Saito's realization that he is not sleeping. Arthur is killed in the dream and wakes up in an apartment, to find Saito and Cobb still dreaming. When Saito begins to wake Cobb is pushed backward into a tub of water in order to wake him. Saito manages to pull a handgun on Arthur before being subdued and knocked to the floor. Cobb presses a handgun to Saito's head, demanding he tell them what they need to know. Saito rubs his hand over the carpet fibers and beings to laugh. He knows this carpet, he says to Cobb, and it is made of wool, not polyester. Saito is impressed by the deception - his is still dreaming.
Having failed to meet their objective, Arthur and Cobb plan to lay low for a while and avoid the hit men their disappointed employer Cobol Engineering is sure to hire.. As Cobb and Arthur attempt to escape they are caught up to by Saito, who informs them that their attempted heist was in fact an audition, an audition for an even more dangerous job. Saito wants Cobb and his team to perform inception, to plant an idea in a target's mind. Arthur scoffs that inception is impossible but Cobb disagrees; he argues that even if it coud be done, what payment could possibly encourage him to try something so difficult and dangerous. Saito informs Cobb that if he completes this job for him, he will make all Cobb's legal troubles disappear, allowing him to return home. Though Cobb has reservations, the lure of going home is strong and he accepts the job.
Amidst efforts to escape the reach of Cobol Engineering's hired guns Cobb travels abroad searching for team members, first arriving in Paris to meet with his father-in-law, Miles (Michael Caine) to ask for help finding a new architect. The architect is the individual who constructs the "dreamspace" occupied by the dreamer and those sharing the dream. It is essential to Cobb that he find a skilled architect for the job Saito has given him. Saito wants Cobb to convince the son of his main competitor to break up the corporate empire when he inherits the company from his dying father. Cobb is able to find an architect that is a young student at Miles' university, a woman named Ariadne (Page). Cobb then travels to Mombasa to find a forger named Eames (Hardy) - an individual able to assume the identity and appearance of others inside a dream. Eames directs Cobb to a local man named Yusuf to find a particularly potent version of the chemical compound they rely upon. Cob wants to create a three layered dream and to do this he will need to mate Somnacin with a powerful sedative. Yusuf demonstrates the compound to Cobb and after seeing the startling efficacy of it in a dream, Cobb hires Yusuf.
With the team assembled details of the job become clear. The target is a young man named Robert Fischer, heir to the empire of his dying father Maurice. Cobb and his team plan to place themselves on the ten hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with Fischer after arranging to have his jet grounded. They will then drug him and use the flight time to carry out the heist. According to Cobb time slows down the deeper you go into a dream, and three levels down ten hours in the real world translates to ten years in the dream. Cobb's team cannot afford to be stuck in the dream world for that long so they will be woken by a mechanism like the one used on Cobb in the apartment. Yusuf explains that the compound used to induce the dreaming leaves inner ear function intact, allowing the sensation of falling to still be experienced when asleep. Inducing a fall in the dream will cause the subject to wake up a level higher, this induced fall is called a "kick".
With their plan in place, Cobb and his team prepare for the job. Eames infiltrates the staff of Maurice Fischer in order to study the mannerisms of Fischer's trusted adviser, Browning. Eames will be the vehicle by which the team begins to manipulate Robert Fischer's thoughts and begin the process of inception. When the team boards the flight and enter the dreamstate they discover that something is terribly wrong, Fischer's mind has been trained by an extractor to defend itself against intrusions and in the resulting fire fight Saito is mortally wounded. If Saito dies while sedated in the dream he will not wake up, but rather fall deeper into raw unconstructed subconscious. With time running out for Saito, Cobb and his team must not only survive the militarized defenses of Fischer's mind as they travel deeper and deeper into his subconscious, they must also escape an enemy intent upon their failure; an enemy that no one but Cobb could have seen coming.
Inception is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action.
The video presentation of Inception impressed me immediately in theaters much like The Dark Night. Nolan's style is apparent from the start with excellent cinematography and frequent use of near-field focus to convey the emotions of the characters. Inception was originally shot in a combination of 35mm and 65mm film and the result is a finely grained presentation with excellent detail. The color palette of the film is largely dominated by greys and blacks offset sharply by remembered scenes from Cobb's past that are vibrant and colorful. The use of shadow and lighting in the film is superb, and rendition of shadow detail is excellently preserved. Flesh tones throughout are accurate and natural with even color saturation and no evidence of chalky or rosy skin. Nolan's preferred visual style results in many shots with a narrow plane of focus - while this could mistakenly be construed as lack of detail the plane where focus is sharp is incredibly so. A great scene for this is the hotel room fight between Arthur and one of Fischer's security - while the background is soft and lacks any sharp delineation Arthur's clothing, hair and skin are immaculately detailed.
Black levels in Inception are inky and combine with the aggressive use of shadow to create a sense of depth and realism that is striking. This presentation really benefits from the black levels a home display can bring to the table rather than a theater projector - as the inky blacks only further immerse you in the dark, mind bending world of Inception.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack presented with Inception is a reference quality monster that will blow your socks off. Throughout the film the psychological elements of the story are enhanced and occasionally presented by the use of the surround mix, with chilling atmospheric effects and aggressive use of the surrounds to pinpoint shattering glass, spattering rain and crunching snow. Throughout Inception the story moves at a startling pace and the sound design only serves to create an even more immersive experience. As Cobb and his team travel deeper into the mind of Robert Fischer the LFE track becomes more and more active, give a palpable sense of the crushing weight that Fischer's psyche is exerting on the team. Dialogue throughout the film is crystal clear and perfectly presented, with no hints of sibilance or muddiness. Sound effects in Inception are spectacular, as each effect seems perfectly matched to the tone of the story. Sounds are visceral and precisely placed in the sound field as weapons are fired, doors are slammed and objects fly though the air. In scenes where a kick is about to occur and Nolan uses high speed cameras the time dilation has a noticeable effect on the sound design, lowering frequencies and giving the action surrounding the characters visceral subsonic heft.
Extraction Mode - Bonusview in movie experience that spans the film‘s signature moments/production as told by the cast/crew
Jump Right to the Action(14 segments) [HD]:
- The Inception of Inception
- The Japanese castle: The dream collapsing
- Disintegration of the Paris cafe
- Constructing paradoxical architecture
- The freight train
- Ambush on the city streets
- The tilting bar
- The rotating corridor
- The mountain fortress
- Simulating Zero-G
- Limbo: The design of unobstructed dream space
- The fortress explosion
- The music of dreams
- The dream shore
Behind The Story[HD]:
- Dreams: cinema of the subconscious - 44 minute documentary hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Inception: The Cobol Job - 14 minute animated prologue to the film‘s opening sequence
- Project Somnacin: Confidential files - BD-live feature
- 5.1 Inception Soundtrack
- Extras: Concept Art & Promotional Art
- Disc 3: Bonus DVD of Inception
- BD-Live enabled
Inception took the box office by storm this summer when it released, and for good reason. Inception is a story that strays so far from the conventional and strains the imagination of the viewer so thoroughly that one can't help being enthralled. Grounded by the excellent performances of an entire cast and pushed forward relentlessly by another stellar DiCaprio performance, Inception is a breathless, brain twisting, roller coaster ride of a film that is one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences I have had in years. During the theatrical run of the film I went to see Inception four times, and never found myself bored. When the Blu-Ray review came around I was initially concerned that I'd find the movie a little old after seeing it so many times in theaters. I was wrong.
Despite my complete familiarity with the story and plot of Inception, I was completely blown away by the added benefit a high quality AV presentation gives to this film. The reference quality audio and stellar video presentation come together to outdo almost my entire Blu-Ray collection. If you have not seen this film you owe it to yourself to go out today and purchase it. For the presentation alone Inception is worth a rental, and for the excellent film alongside such a class leading presentation there can be no question that this is yet another title you simply have to own. Highly Recommended.