“Inception” mixes dreams and reality

Leonardo DiCaprio leads a stellar cast in heist story with a twist

| Jul 29, 2010

A scene from Inception

Inception is Christopher Nolen’s latest mind teaser, afer his 2001 Memento, which is still being talked about as a tour de force.

He also directed the two latest Batman films, but I wasn’t as impressed by them as I was by Memento.

Leonardo DiCaprio leads a stellar cast in what is essentially just another heist story, but one with a twist: The crimes, if we can call them that, occur only in the victims’ dreams, and the loot is nothing but information.

In other words, it is corporate espionage at the subconscious level.

DiCaprio plays Cobb, and when the film opens, he is washed up on a beach, captured, and taken to a room where sits a very old man. One of the guards tells the old man, “He was delirious, but asked for you by name.”

This is all just a teaser to the audience, because we won’t find out the meaning of this scene or who the old man is until the end of the film.

And in addition to switching around in time, the film switches between dreams and reality, between different levels of dreams, and between the dreams of different characters.

This is not your typical summer action movie, but it does contain plenty of action, confusing action at that and peppered with jump cuts between all the dreams and what little reality there is.

Cobb has a team of accomplices who help him, consisting of a second in command who is the technician that allows all the members to be dreaming in the same dream as their mark, an architect who designs and creates the fantasy world that the dream will exist in, a forger who is capable of being whatever new character the mark might insert in the dream, and a skilled chemist who supplies the sleep-inducing potions.

And remember that there can be dreams within dreams and even dreams within dreams within dreams.

Anyway, Cobb and his team are hired by a client not to extract information from a mark’s dream but to plant a notion that the mark will believe is his own when he awakes, which will make the client richer than he already is.

Inception has another one of those ambiguous endings, and you might want to see it more than once to understand the film better, but not me.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”


“Hotshots” is a weekly movie review by Dan Culberson available on KGNU Community Radio (88.5 FM in Boulder and 1390 AM in Denver, on Filmchannel1, and on Boulder Reporter. Culberson has been reviewing films since 1972 for newspapers, magazines, radio and television.