How ‘Inception’ Didn’t Make Me Feel Stupid

Movies like Donnie Darko, Primer and even The Matrix trilogy have challenged my intellect (or lack thereof). Inception falls into that category of mind-bending cinema that may or may not make a “WTF” hover above your head.

Lucky for me, I only felt kind of stupid after watching this movie.

As the auteur of indie darling, Memento and the reinvigorated noir-ish Batman franchise, Inception director and writer Christopher Nolan may have created one of the most amazing movies of the summer – nay – the year.

Besides having a really cool cast, the story has so many layers that, if placed in the hands of any other director, may have been a big ol’ clusterf*ck – but Nolan handles it effortlessly.

But what hell is it about? Well, I’m glad you asked.

It’s about dreams and a duo of dudes (who appear to be thieves) who enter them to “extract” crucial information from the dreams of a dreamer. Makes sense, right? That duo consists of Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner in crime Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). After finding out about their shady business, big daddy tycoon Saito (our Asian homeboy Ken Watanabe) asks the dreamy bosom buddies to perform inception on Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), the heir to a business that poses a threat to Saito’s company.

But what the hell is inception? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Inception is the exact opposite of extraction. Instead of taking something out of a dream, they are implanting something into a dream.

There is a lot on the line with this job so they make a few additions to the dream team. Adriadne (Ellen Page) hops on board as the resident “architect” (she builds the dream) and Eames (Tom Hardy), the “forger” who can transform himself into anyone when in a subject’s dream. Then there’s Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the man who makes the potions and such to put people in a dreamlike state.

Are you dorked out yet? If not, read on.

If Cobb finishes this final job successfully, he will be able to go home and visit his kids who he hasn’t seen in forever. Then there’s the matter of his late wife, Mal (the ravishing Marion Cotillard) who happens to show up during his “dream” jobs to screw things up. She’s kind of like Freddy Krueger, but instead of knived fingers, she’s just an all-around cruel bitch who wants to make his life a living hell – but that’s just a whole different story.

This movie would be great to watch under the influence of mind altering drugs, but it’s okay to watch sober as well – but you have to pay close attention because if you blink, you might miss something. I actually held my water (my pee) and sat through all 150 minutes just so I wouldn’t miss anything. I may have increased my risk for a UTI, but it was worth it.

Inception provides a captivating balance of drama, science fiction, and action that will blow your mindhole. I don’t know where to begin in explaining the fascination of this movie. Should I start with the amazing writing? Or maybe I should talk about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s brilliant “Dancing on the Ceiling” fight scene. Or maybe I should just focus on Leo’s greatness as the emotional core of the movie. What about Page’s ability to make me think she can be someone other than snarky pregnant teen? Or the dry humor of Tom Hardy? Or perhaps the slyness of Ken Watanabe? Or maybe I should just focus on the great scene where Leo and Joe wear leather jackets a la Starsky and Hutch.

The movie is in appreciative individual pieces, but when put together it’s a monolithic piece of work that is thought-provoking like a cool indie film, action-packed like a summer blockbuster and dramatic like an epic production.

I may not be smart enough to fully explain the girth of this movie. I could try, but I am sure there are a bunch of douchebags who will “claim” to know the underlying meanings of the layered plotlines that you can talk to for some pretentious explanations.

The definition of a good movie is one that burrows itself in your brain and infects it with intriguing questions for days on end (I’ve been thinking about it since I screened it on Monday). I had to really concentrate to follow the story and I’m sure it will require multiple viewings when it comes out on DVD. Essentially, it’s a brainteaser. I understood what was going on, but felt exhausted afterward – like I just took some sort of standardized test – a test I wouldn’t mind taking again.

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About Dino-Ray

Dino-Ray Ramos is a movie hobbit, social media swaggerist, pop culture junkie, smart-mouthed Asian American warrior, and a well-rounded inhaler of all things entertainment. After uprooting from Texas, he migrated to San Francisco where he shares his irreverent take on high and low brow aspects of culture. In addition to feeding he writes for, Hyphen Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. You can also boost his self-esteem by following his musings on Twitter
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