I am compelled to break my rule and call Inception, the latest from writer/director Christopher Nolan, one of the finest films I have ever had the privilege of viewing.
Reportedly taking eight years to write, Nolan crafted a script with a most convoluted plot structure that one may think it would take a genius to understand let alone create. But Nolan somehow makes even the most outlandish seem eerily intimate.
Leonardo DiCaprio (in his best performance since The Departed) plays Dom Cobb, an extractor who enters the dreams of others (via a method that recalls The Matrix) in order to obtain information for the shady characters who hire him. These bits of information are generally of the financial kind: pin numbers, account codes, etc. Cobb also runs from a dark past. His wife (Marion Cotillard) committed suicide some time ago, but Cobb is accused of murder and goes on the lam leaving his two small children in the care of his parents (Michael Caine plays his father, who also helps his son out whenever they think it's safe).
All of this--the murder charge, the running from authorities, everything--can be erased if Cobb takes on a job for wealthy businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe). The assignment is to go into the mind of Saito's business rival Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and plant the idea of selling his company. The problem is Cobb and his team, which includes an architect (Ellen Paige) to construct Fischer's dream world and some heavily armed muscle men, have to make it appear to Fischer that the idea was wholly original and not planted.
Confused yet? You won't be if you pay attention. To describe the basic plot of the movie is futile, because no plot summary begins to describe the inner workings of this labyrinthine film. It's part thriller, part drama, part action, part fantasy with a bit of comedy thrown in to ease the tension now and then. There's something for everybody.
The sizable cast, which also includes Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite and the amazing Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is great. The visual effects are among the most impressive in recent film history and the thrilling score by Hans Zimmer only adds to this overall triumph.
But the real star here is Nolan, who must be superhuman by making an even better film then his previous masterpiece, The Dark Knight. If Inception doesn't earn its talented architect an Oscar (which he should have won two years ago) then nothing will because I don't see how it is possible for him to make a better film than Inception.