Inception: Nolan Film Marks Its 10th Anniversary

Dileep Rao, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, and Ken Watanabe in Inception. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the Oscar-winning sci-fi heist film about dreams, marks its tenth anniversary since its theatrical release in 2010.

When most people think of extraction, it’s usually sending in covert agents to get someone out. This isn’t so much the case with this film. Not even by a long shot.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has a particular set of skills that make him a dangerous person. Granted, this also depends on who you are but still! What he does is go deep inside of your mind while you’re dreaming in order to take important secrets. Here’s the catch: you don’t even know he’s doing it at the time because you’re asleep. While it makes Dom an important person in such a business, it also means he’s on the run. One wrong move and a loved one could end up dying.

Dom’s partner-in-crime is Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and their most recent mission sees Japanese businessman Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) turning the cards on them to do a job. In this instance, Mr. Saito wants his Dom and Arthur to implant an idea in the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the son of business rival Maurice Fischer (Pete Poslethwaite). Dom has a chance at clearing his name if the job succeeds.  Otherwise he’ll never be able to go home to his family. Regardless this is going to be unlike any job that Dom and Arthur have done. They’ll need a team to pull off the operation. In order to do so, they bring in identity forger Eames (Tom Hardy), chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and architecture student Ariadne (Elliot Page).

And again, nobody will know that it’s a dream within a dream. The technology behind it all is confusing but everyone shares the same dream when Robert flies back to Los Angeles with his dad’s body. The film includes multi-level dreams, which are too complex to explain in a film review. Science isn’t my strong suit so it’s best to leave the science of this to the experts. Dom remains haunted by projections of his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), and it comes back to bite him no matter what dream level they’re at. Even when the film comes to an end, I still have questions because the top keeps spinning as the film fades out. Is Dom within a dream or is this Christopher Nolan messing with our minds? The filmmaker won’t answer the question. However, Michael Caine has definitive answer.

With everything going on at multiple levels, the hotel hallway remains one of the film’s best set pieces ten years later. The loss of gravity doesn’t happen without Yusuf driving the van off the bridge. It has consequences for the subsequent levels but visually speaking, it’s a scene that you simply can’t forget.

I feel like it can’t be a Christopher Nolan film without Michael Caine either in the cast or a cameo whether he’s credited or not. Caine’s role is very minor at best in the two and a half hour film.

While the film ranks as one of Nolan’s best films, it’s not even the best film from ten years ago. No, that honor belongs to a little known film called The Social Network. Anyway, Nolan is innovative in this film when it comes to world-building and next to The Dark Knight trilogy, it’s why so many of us are looking forward to Tenet. There is enough imagery in the trailer that leads us to believe the two films are connected. Tenet will come at a later date.  Maybe not this year but next.

Nolan sandwiched a pair of original films between the trilogy. The Prestige came first in 2006 between the first two films while this one was released between the last two films. It’s inexcusable that Nolan didn’t earn an Oscar nomination for directing. Yes, Inception earned nominations for Best Picture and Original Screenplay. But you cannot tell me that The King’s Speech is a better directed film. Inception is far superior of a film on every level! If you ask me, Inception is the second best film of the year next to the Facebook film.

While Nolan may have been robbed of a directing nomination, the film won in cinematography, visual effects, and both sound categories. Both the visual effects and Wally Pfister’s cinematography put Inception in a world of its own with every dream level having their own unique look. Ten years later, it still shows. Musically speaking, Hans Zimmer delivers an impressive score. The most notable selection is “Dream is Collapsing.” “Ratical Notion” carries sounds similar insofar as the instrumentation is concerned. The overall soundtrack is superb.

Inception is a different kind of heist film but it is hard to imagine it coming from any filmmaker other than Christopher Nolan.

CAST:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Dileep Rao, and Michael Caine

Warner Bros. opened Inception in theaters on July 16, 2010. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.