Mission Impossible meets The Matrix.
Leonardo DiCaprio (playing Dom Cobb) finds himself in almost the same haunting memory he was in, in Shutter Island. That is, searching for the truth about his wife and two children. I’m sure this was purely coincidental, but it is an interesting aside.
Inception’s simple story line is that DiCaprio, and crew, are hired to plant an idea into someone else’s mind. That idea, when brought to fruition will benefit the person hiring DiCaprio, and the whole world also. The movie, wisely, doesn’t spend more than about 15 seconds explaining much of this. So we accept it, and the movie moves on. This is the Mission Impossible part.
The Matrix comparison is the meat of the movie, as the mission takes shape and we move into the complexities of the mechanism to accomplish the mission. However, instead of being plugged into an electronically created other-worldly environment, as in The Matrix, we’re plugged directly into a person’s dreams. But it’s not really the other person’s dream, it’s a dream created for that person. The dream being created to ultimately fool the person into believing the planted idea is his and ultimately for that person to act on that idea. Essentially it’s a gigantic sting operation. But instead of the sting being physically set up as in, well, The Sting, or the Oceans movies, the sting is set up entirely in a dream world.
Of course anything this complicated might be a little difficult to pull off. The complexities encountered while attempting this are what keep us in our seats for the full 2.5 hours of the movie. Those complexities involve not only creating the dream, but creating multiple levels of dreams so that the subject is fooled into believing the dream is actually his and not some induced dream, which it is. It seems we are smart enough, even in a dream, to figure out when we’re being taken, so it takes a dream to fool a dream to fool a dream, etc.
Not only are multiple levels of dreams required, but we have the unwanted problem of the crew’s dreams being introduced into the subject’s dreams and taking the dream in unwanted directions. Of course if you remember the second paragraph above, the main problem is DiCaprio himself. He is being haunted by his dreams, and more to the point, his wife’s dreams also. And the reason for this haunting has to do with, you guessed it, more dreams.
This is the matrix we find ourselves in. This is the matrix we watch from start to finish to try to decipher and understand. Fortunately, the movie will not put us to sleep, so we don’t have to worry about our dreams entering into the movie. Rest assured (but be careful of your dreams when you rest), by the end of the movie we understand and leave with a sense of satisfaction and entertainment.
The cast is first-rate. The special effects are first-rate. The movie is original. While at this point in time, the movie may not be ground breaking, as The Matrix was, the movie as a whole is first-rate. Go see it.
Since I gave Shutter Island a rating of 1, and Shutter Island is a slightly better movie, I’ll rate Inception 1.2 on the numb butt scale.