Inception is the sort of film you’ll love if you enjoy a film that really screws with you mind.
As the film begins, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, right with DiCaprio) visit a Japanese man in his dream and tell them they’re the best extractors of information while people sleep, and that they can train him to defend his subconscious so his guard isn’t down at the time when he’s normally at his most vulnerable. They tell him to train him, they need access to all the information in his safe, but surely that would make him massively sceptical?
Back in the real world, Dominic Cobb has a lot of problems, not least the fact that his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), is dead and he just can’t accept that. He also hasn’t seen his two young children in a long time, the reasons for which will become apparent, and so throws himself into his work to distract himself.
His next job involves a man called Saito (Ken Watanabe), whose business is being threatened by Fischer Morrow, which is the last company standing between him and total dominance of the energy market and he can no longer compete. Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) company is like the energy eequivalent of Sky TV and on the verge of controlling half the supply around the world, so they need to get inside his mind and plant the seed of an idea that he doesn’t really want to do it. An incredibly difficult task and that is just one element of the massively complex structure that holds Inception together.
The rest of Cobb’s team is made up of expert forger Eames (Tom Hardy), student Ariadne (Ellen Page, below-right with DiCaprio), Nash (Lukas Haas) and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), who can concoct the precise sedative required when it comes to this mission which will require them to go into dreams within dreams, something which provides fascinating viewing but you can’t tear yourself away from the screen for a moment otherwise you won’t be able to follow what’s going on. For those who stick with it, they will be well-rewarded.
While I hugely enjoyed director Christopher Nolan’s remake of Insomnia and his debut feature film, Following, it’s with films to his credit such as this and Memento that show he’s an incredible visionary, but I didn’t quite go a bundle on his Batman films. Still, as long as he doesn’t cast that so-so actor Heath Ledger again, all should be fine.
The cast is also rounded out with a brief appearance from Pete Postlethwaite as Fischer’s dying father, Michael Caine as Cobb’s father, Professor Miles, and a where-has-he-been-for-the-past-20-years Tom Berenger as Robert’s godfather, Peter Browning, who is also Fischer Senior’s right-hand-man.
I like the fact that the dream machine within this movie makes you instantly fall asleep. They should market that as it’d save any amount of insomnia!
I’m giving it 9/10 overall as while it’s a great little mindfuck, there are one or two ideas I’ve come across before and I picked up on a couple of twists when I don’t normally. Okay, so not much can ever be 100% original, but still, it’s an essential film to watch and another triumph for Christopher Nolan.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 anamorphic theatrical ratio, the picture is sharp, detailed and colourful with, generally no problems whatsoever. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
Audio-wise, you get a 5.1 DTS HD MA soundtrack, for which I got the 5.1 DTS version, which is faultless when it comes to getting across everything you’d expect from an action film with battles and explosions, plus Hans Zimmer’s fantastic score and all of the ambience.
I say there’s no problems, but – and I’m blaming this on the disc I received so if you get one like this from a shop then take it back – I counted 10 very minor and brief audio dropouts during the whole movie. I know it’s not my player as no other disc has done this and it sometimes made the film jolt a bit at the same time. It was clearly not intentional.
The extras begin with the Extraction Mode, one of those feature-length Blu-ray ‘making of’s which look at all aspects of the filming as it progressed and shows more behind-the-scenes moments than you can shake a stick at. It’s an essential for fans of the film and is rather like a visual commentary, rather than plain audio.
At various points throughout the film, it will cut to one of 14 featurettes about how various aspect of the film were put together and, in all, has a running time of around 3hrs 10mins. If you choose “Jump right to the action” (44:13) then you can view all these independently. They include Christopher Nolan talking about how he’s been working on the concept of this film for around 10 years, the special FX of an early scene in the film about blowing up a Paris café (a scene that’s been used many times on example clips on TV) and Hans Zimmer’s wonderful and emphatic score.
A second Blu-ray disc brings up a further selection of extras, and this is the first time I’ve actually come across a package with two Blu-ray discs. I remember an article in the late 90s in Home Entertainment, being promised how one single DVD could, for example, hold all three of Quentin Tarantino’s films to date, but of course, like an extra lane on the motorway, no sooner do you provide extra space for content that someone finds a way to fill it. Anyway, I digress:
- Dreams: Cinema of the subconscious (44:29): Joseph Gordon Levitt introduces a feature about the latest facts that we know about dream research with various leading scientists giving their opinions and experiences.
- Inception: The Cobol Job (14:33): A comic prologue with full animation and motion to see the events that led Cobb, Arthur and Nash to where they began at the start of the movie. I really enjoyed this.
- 5.1 Inception Soundtrack (38:38): Not really any need to go out and buy a seperate soundtrack CD, Warner have done a spot-on job by making ten of the CD’s 12 tracks as part of this package. The box states that they are all in 5.1 (doesn’t state whether this is DTS or Dolby Digital), but my amp was only picking it up in Dolby ProLogic, so I can only presume there’s a mislabelling going on here. Either way, if any Warner execs are reading this, please include this sort of feature in future, and if you can include every single track and also a 5.1 option then all the better. If you can also get Ellen Page to hand-deliver the package then I’m sold!
- Conceptual art gallery: A great number of scenes from the film in… erm… conceptual art form.
- Promotional art archive: 12 pieces of promotional art.
- Trailers: Three here, the first one being a teaser (1:03) from August 2009 (I hadn’t even heard of this back then), then a trailer from December 2009 (1:22) and finally one from May 2010 (2:24) which *was* when I first heard of it.
- TV Spots (11:28): Thirteen in total.
This is also one of those Blu-ray packs which contains a bonus DVD – handy to give to a friend to watch it if they don’t have Blu-ray, or you want to watch it in a different room – and a digital copy, which is less handy since these are usually of low-quality and so not really worth bothering with. Note that the DVD in this package doesn’t have any extras on it, so I don’t know whether the regular DVD will have although I’d assume those come on a separate disc given that Warner are asking over £20 for it (although it’s on Amazon at the above link for just under a tenner as I write this).
There’s also an expensive Limited Edition Blu-ray package which contains the same disc here in a briefcase containing:
- PASIV (Portable Automated Somnacin IntraVenous) Device User Manual
- Movie art-cards
- Inception Spinning Top
- Will include a disc of Special Features
The menu mixes clips from the film with the track “Dream is collapsing” from Hans Zimmer’s haunting score, albeit all on a very short loop. There are subtitles in English, Castilian Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish. The chaptering is a bizarre odd number of 15, which isn’t anywhere near enough. I work on the rule of thumb for approximately one every five minutes, ensuring one apiece for the opening and closing credits. This film lasts for TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS! That’s one every 10 minutes, approximately, and they generally come around with that frequency, too.
Running time: 148 minutes
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Cat no: 1000121896
Released: December 2010
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio (English only. DD5.1 for the rest)
Languages: English, Castilian Spanish
Subtitles: English plus 6 languages
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Christopher Nolan, Kanjiro Sakura, Yoshikuni Taki amd Emma Thomas
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
Music: Hans Zimmer
Cobb: Leonardo DiCaprio
Arthur: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Ariadne: Ellen Page
Eames: Tom Hardy
Saito: Ken Watanabe
Yusuf: Dileep Rao
Robert Fischer: Cillian Murphy
Peter Browning: Tom Berenger
Mal: Marion Cotillard
Maurice Fischer: Pete Postlethwaite
Miles: Michael Caine
Nash: Lukas Haas
Tadashi: Tai-Li Lee
Blonde: Talulah Riley
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.