Yeah... he thought he could make The Joker better, too!
His twist is that that his whole script was to be set not in some VR Computer, but in the landscape of Dreams. Let me tell you, when he pitched it to Warner Bros. just after he finished Insomnia they wanted him to direct the film based on his script RIGHT AWAY! The only problem was... home dude hadn't written it yet.
Bummer. What a tease!
I wonder if he followed up his pitch (and their enthusiastic response) with "APRIL FOOL! Oh, you guys! PSYCHE! You should have seen the look on your faces, man! Ha ha!"
And Warners was probably still so close to cuddling up in his lap that they responded with a big "Oh, you irascible scamp, you! We can't stay mad at you! Oh-ho-ho, our sides! Seriously, Chrissy-poo, make this movie, please!"
It took him another 8 years but finally he made it happen. Hell, after The Dark Knight he had lots of self-satisfied time to come up with anything he wanted... and since he wrote the script himself, produced the flick and directed it to boot, you can bet that every frame of Inception is most assuredly "Anything Christopher Nolan" wants!
While Inception is somewhat self-indulgent in a lot of areas and Christopher Nolan is clearly relishing his "A-List" status as "The Director of 'THE DARK KNIGHT'" (the immediate second and now third best selling movie of all time), the truth is that Inception is a surprisingly well-done and engrossing fantasy/ action film with incredible special effects and a tight plot. In short... that'll do, Christopher Nolan... That'll do!
Nolan's screenplay introduces us to a trio of smug criminals played by former child stars who use a special military-born technology to invade the dreams of important people and mine their minds for information. Wow, such a thing has never been done before... except in Dreamscape and... nevermind! Anyway, you've got your Dream Architect in Lukas Haas' Nash, your mission planner in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and, of course, your Master Thief in Leonardo DiCaprio's Dom. The victim that they're attempting to extract vital information from is the wealthy head of an energy company named Saito (Ken Watanabe).
The only problem with doing business in a world where anything can happen is... anything can happen... and happen it does as the memory of Dom Cobb's deceased wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) pops in to mess things all up for the Domster. Again. And if you think this is a one off, tiny introductory plot point then I've got a bridge in El Paso to sell you.
Lucky for Dom and Arthur, the whole thing less infuriates than impresses psycho Saito enough that he is convinced that they are the very guys to hire for his new and ultimate corporate piracy move. You see, a rival energy company is right on the brink of becoming an unstoppable monopoly and, hence, a world power all their own. Led by the triumverate of the ailing Maurice Fischer (Pete Postletwaite), his son Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and their right hand man "Uncle" Peter Browning (Tom Berenger), this is the company to beat! Saito realizes it can only be done from the inside... if young Robert decides to split up his father's company and allow other companies (like Saito's, obviously) to compete.
But how will Robert "Decide" to do this? Well, the hope is that Dom and his Dream Warriors can plant that crazy idea in Little Bob's head-bone through the OPPOSITE of "Extraction"... it's an almost unheard of method known as "Inception". To this end, the Dream Dominator has to assemble a new Dream Warrior crew for his proverbial Last Big Job Before Retirement! This is seeing as how sweet Saito tells Dom that he can make Dom's stateside legal troubles disappear like a bad dream.
To this end, Dom rings up his mourning father-in-law Miles (Michael Caine) who has a newer, better dream architect lined up for Dom in the form of Ellen Page's Ariadne (sorry, Haas). From there the team rounds out with a brilliant forger (who can look like anyone in dreams) named Eames (Tom Hardy) and the chemist who can make the perfect sleep cocktail named Yusuf (Dileep Rao).
And, yes, folks, this is only the beginning.
It's clear that Nolan has just about perfectly thought out all of the mythology that he employs in Inception so that such a fantastically unbelieveable premise can be bought into by the masses. He knows what happens when someone dies in a dream and when there are exceptions to that rule. He knows what will wake someone up, regardless of how deep they're in. He has figured out what rules need to be followed as we delve beyond dreams and into dreams-within-dreams (and beyond even that). He even thinks up just how an invaded unconscious mind might react to having a foreign conscious inside it, poking around and looking for information. We know this because reams and reams of expository dialogue spell each piece out for us. While that might get dull for some viewers, it's well written enough that it works for those who have the attention span (and suspension of disbelief) to follow what he's saying. Further, he accents each layer with brilliant special effects and awesome cinematography (by Wally Pfister) and a well-imagined musical score by Hans Zimmer. Yes, Inception is a beautiful movie to see and hear and once the audience has bought into it, Nolan has them throughout.
On the other hand, Nolan, as both writer and director, does seem to paint himself into a corner now and then and has trouble following his own rules as he breaks his way out and back into the plot. Often this is covered up by a smart slice of dialogue, but much more commonly Nolan attempts to distract the audience with incredible fight scenes, action sequences and explosions to keep us from figuring out that it doesn't all add up as much as he wants us to believe it does.
What's more, there is a certain familiarity to the whole affair. From the manipulation of "Reality" to the brilliant student learning to control new worlds to the special creations running security within the dreamscape, the whole thing feels more than a little bit like The Matrix, which most certainly had to be an influence here. There are fight scenes that feel so much like Neo battling Agent Smith that I had to laugh a little bit as I wondered who would be revealed as "The Chosen One". Luckily, neither Page, nor Gordon-Levitt, nor Dicaprio pause and say "Whoa! I know Kung Fu!"
DiCaprio seems to be playing the same darkly dejected character he's been playing in most every movie for the past half-decade to prove that he's not still that kid from Titanic. He's not. He's that kid from Critters 3 Michael Caine still has that same half-smile that says "I'm Michael Caine and I'm good enough to give you a Cameo in this flick, old Chap!"
Still, for the flaws it has, Inception does exceed expectations and manages to be very intelligent, especially for a Blockbuster. Nolan has a lot of balls in the air at once and while some of these don't turn into the brilliantly deep concepts that he wants each one to, it's noteworthy that the film never collapses under its own weight and does manage to remain interesting and even fairly consistent through out its two hour and twenty-two minute runtime. While you may have seem a lot of these concepts before in other movies and while Nolan is clearly borrowing here, while indulging in every dreamy whim he has, somehow Inception manages to feel new and almost real (for such an intentionally unrealistic film) and Nolan, surprisingly, never comes across as smug while the film is going on.
Yes, Inception is a very cool film, very smart and very inventive, even for all its borrowed bits. In fact, Nolan handles the ensemble of talented, powerful people in a dream univers so well, I'd almost recommend him to direct a Superhero flick... if we hadn't already seen that from him! Four Stars out of Five for Inception. It never falls flat, nor slaps the Sandman in the face for bringing in that veritable barrow-load of dreams, nightmares, heavens and hells. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to get some shut-eye myself. What dreams may come? Well, I'll tell you that the dreams I have each night weren't featured at all in any of Nolan's layers. Then again, how COULD Christopher Nolan have thought up a Planet of Beautiful, Bisexual Women upon which I am the only male living on the whole world? Well, maybe in the sequel. See you in the next reel... ladies!