Inception is the latest in a long line of movies in one of my favourite genres, namely the “mind fuck” movie. Below you’ll find a list of other great movies that will mess with your head, but first my Inception review.
Along with Toy Story 3, it was my great hope for the summer, and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. Christopher Nolan takes the complex plotting of Memento and combines it with the action filmmaking he learned on the Batman films to create that rarity – an action movie that makes you think.
The film grabbed me right from the beginning with a mysterious opening followed by a dream within a dream sequence that sets up the world of the movie perfectly. This is essentially a heist movie, but one where the prize is stealing (or later on, putting an idea into) the mind of a captive dreamer. It’s a testament to Nolan’s skill as a writer and director that I accepted this reality almost immediately.
A likeable ensemble cast backs up the always reliable Leonardo DiCaprio (as the traumatized Cobb), with each member of his team bringing a different skill into play in the dream world. The haunting imagery is at its finest in the limbo world that Cobb and his dead wife created, a world where giant skyscrapers crumble apart at will.
The action highlight of the film is a car chase in the first level of the dream world that leads to a hotel fight in the second level. One of Nolan’s inspired ideas is that when the dreamers are in freefall it removes gravity from the dream level below them. This results in a stunning zero G fight scene between Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character and sinister agents that are projections of the subconscious mind attacking the intruders.
The only slight disappointment is that the next level of the dream turns out to be a James Bond style snowmobile chase on a mountain (why, it’s never exactly clear). The generic action distracts from the movie’s themes – it would have been better if Nolan had given us a more surreal dreamscape for this section of the movie.
Minor quibbles aside, the film recovers for an ending that manages to be both emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Cobb has his dream of reuniting with his children fulfilled, but the final shot leaves it up to the audience to decide whether this happy reunion is real or just another level of the dream.
It’s refreshing to see such an intelligent movie succeed at the box office. While Nolan has his faults as a filmmaker (his films tend to be overlong and, aside from a few quips, lacking in humour) he’s beginning to live up to the hype that he may just be the next Stanley Kubrick. Inception is a film that you want to see again as soon as it's over.
10 Must-See Mindfuck movie:
2001: A Space Odyssey - Kubrick laid the groundwork for all "WTF?" endings to follow
Eraserhead - David Lynch has never been weirder or more disturbing
Videodrome - Of the many mind bending Cronenberg films, this is possibly the best
Total Recall - how could I not include this when it actually has "mindfuck" in the dialogue? This even beats Blade Runner in capturing the twists of Phillip K. Dick's work
Jacob’s Ladder - a brilliant movie with an ending that outdoes the latter Sixth Sense
Cube - the thinking person's Saw
12 Monkeys - more accessible than the equally head trippy Brazil. One of Gilliam's best
Dark City - does what The Matrix did but it did it first and better
Fight Club - the first rule of Fight Club is . . .
Vanilla Sky - more intellectually stimulating than a Tom Cruise movie has any right to be