Dom Cobb… Leonardo DiCaprio
Joseph Gordon-Levitt… Arthur
Ellen Page… Ariadne
Tom Hardy… Eames
Ken Watanabe… Mr Saito
Dileep Rao… Yusuf
Cillian Murphy… Robert Fischer
Marion Cotillard… Mal Cobb
Genre: Science Fiction, Heist, Action, Psychological Thriller
EAMES: Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.
Dom Cobb is an “extractor” who performs thrilling feats of industrial espionage and sabotage by invading the dreams of corporate executives. He’s a sneakthief, and a good one, and he is played to conflicted and charming perfection by Di Caprio. He is offered the deal of a lifetime, basically The Big Score every anti-hero thief is offered in every crime caper ever (and Inception is definitely a crime caper): to infiltrate the mind of industrialist scion Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and convince him to make some very poor business decisions for the profit of the dastardly Saito (Ken Watanabe). If Cobb succeeds, the charges against him for his wife’s murder — it’s okay, he probably didn’t do it — will be dropped and he will see their kids again. So Cobb ssembles his crack team and together these renegade catburglars of the subconscious set about their disturbing restructuring of reality.
Why It’s Must-See: Visually it is overwhelmingly, often ethereally, stunning, and the story itself immediately grabs a hold of the imagination and does not let go for a second. It’s Sneakers meets Dreamscape, The Italian Job meets The Cell, Ocean’s 11 meets The Matrix, and it works so well it possibly out-cools all of them, combined. It’s the book William Gibson and Elmore Leonard never wrote together, and it is brought to breathtaking, gob-smacking life by Nolan and his eminently appealing and dynamic cast.
Romance Factor: Definitely present. Cobb and Ariadne have definite sparks, and Cobb’s obsession with his wife is nothing short of Shakespearean.
Box Office: Inception $825 million worldwide, om a $160 million budget, making it the fourth biggest film at the box office in 2010, behind Toy Story 3, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and the penultimate Harry Potter.
Critical Reception: While reviews were mostly positive, and often enthusiastic, the movie had its detractors, summed up by The New Yorker‘s David Denby, who wrote “Inception is a stunning-looking film that gets lost in fabulous intricacies, a movie devoted to its own workings and to little else.” It was listed in multiple Best of lists for the year, and it received multiple award nominations, winning many technical awards as well as the 2011 Bradbury Award for best dramatic production and the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.
Influence: Artists as diverse and Common, Jennifer Lopez and The Black Eyed Peas have referenced the song in their work; in 2010, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone got in trouble for attempting to parody the film without having seen it, and so plagiarized a parody from people who had; and numerous other films and TV shows have made either implicit or explicit Inception references.
Notable Merchandise: You can buy an Inception Totem — a replica of the spinning top that allowed Cobb to figure out whether he was dreaming or not — for just a few dollars.
On the Page: There’s Inception: The Shooting Script, there’s Inception and Philosophy: Because It’s Never Just a Dream, and a prequel comic was available online for a time, but never progressed past one issue.
Did You Know? When Inception is broadcast on television in Japan, helpful text in the upper-left corner of the screen reminds viewers which level of the dream a specific scene takes place in.