By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
Striking a truly impressive balance between engaging the mind, the heart, and the heart rate, Inception is the first movie since The Dark Knight that I wanted to see again the very next day (no coincidence since they were made by the same person). It has been said that Hollywood relies too much on special effects to cover lazy storytelling; not so with Inception, where truly stunning visuals only supplement what you’ll really be talking about: the story, what it means, how it moved you, and how shockingly original it is. I’ve never seen anything like it, either in concept or in narrative structure. Neither have I attended, in a long time, a film that gave my brain such a workout.
This is a movie that expects you to pay attention and make connections. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a heartbreaking performance, leading a cast of top-notch actors playing interesting characters in a film that appears to be a science-fiction action/heist caper (a rather unique concept in itself), but is actually about guilt, the desire for redemption, and the raw power of simple ideas. Director Christopher Nolan, as he did with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, takes something fantastic and paints it in realistic tones. This is what unbridled imagination, combined with intelligence, emotion, and talent looks like on film.
It is mentally and emotionally challenging. It also has some terrific action (including a physics-bending fight sequence that is jaw-dropping) and is very creative in its use of cinematography, editing, and music. Though comparatively light on language, with no sexual material and action violence where physical harm is not what’s at stake (you’ll understand when you see it), Inception is nonetheless not recommended for anyone younger than teens due to its complexity and intense subject matter.
Looking for another moving and thought-provoking slice of sci-fi? I highly recommend Gattaca.