Pretend, for a moment, that there was only ever one Matrix movie - the first one. If you're an intelligent Sci-Fi fan who likes their thrillers brainy and just the wrong side of silly, like me, then you probably try to pretend this every day, just to blot out the "Yeeeee-haaaaaw!" pseudo-sequels that turned the whole idea into [any old robots vs. humans story] and took the magic of the first film away. Okay. We're on the same page now. Let me speak about the best head-fuck sci-fi action-fantasy that I've seen since The Matrix. Let me talk about Inception; the big-budget dream-hopping latest from Christopher Nolan (I know, it's old news. But I've just seen it - so there).
Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio (an actor who never seems to get the credit he deserves from "film buffs") as a... what? Dream Thief? He goes into people's dreams and takes ideas, to be sold to those interested in paying enough for the information gathered. The rule goes that your conscious defences are down when you're asleep - and dreaming - although your subconscious may cause trouble for the intruder (or Extractor as they are called). Forget the whys and wherefores - it's not a movie I can relay in words on a website, it'd sound shit... Bottom line is this; the process can work both ways. Ideas can be planted as well as removed.
And so begins the ultimate dream within a dream adventure. Now, the phrase "and it all takes place in a dream" is usually enough to turn me off a book or movie completely - it's the reason I didn't see this masterpiece of modern cinema on the big screen. I'm a movie snob and thought I knew better than the millions of people who raved and raved about this film. I didn't know better. Inception is the "Radiohead of Sci Fi Action Movies". It takes all the ingredients that should make up a great movie (the dark secrets, the sexy sidekick, the is-he-or-isn't-he-a villain, the over the top and totally unrealistic through-line, the massive action set pieces and state of the art CGI) and weaves them together like a rare carpet spun from golden threads. If you didn't get the cross-world setting of The Matrix, or were annoyed by the gravity-defying fist-fights, go and see something else. I think Happy Feet is on ITV again this week, for the third time since Christmas.
But if you like brainy, ballsy, fast, complex, interesting, thought-provoking and surprisingly touching action sci-fi epics (or you really fancy Ellen Page and want to see her dressed as a sexy secretary, or soaking wet) then I urge you to get hold of this movie, switch the lights off and your brain on, don't drink for 48 hours before hand and devour this movie like the hungry beast you are. It's not far off three hours long but - like in a dream - it leaves you with a muddled understanding of just how long it has been on. I thought it was 1am - it's actually almost 3am.
"But, it just looks like a Matrix rip off! You began by comparing the two movies, so what's so....?" HUSH! Nope, you're wrong! I was wrong too, because that's what I thought, before I saw it... Forget the fact that Inception needs a dumper truck to carry its ample intelligence about, whereas The Matrix was more "Oooh! He's a bit like Jesus, ain't he?!": less brains and more OTT Religion Lite bollocks (most of which was only introduced in the last two films - which don't exist, right?
Inception does all the cool things The Matrix does, only better. There's no superhuman strength or moving things with your mind, not really. Physics - and the rules of gravity and motion - exist within the dream states in Inception just like they do in the "waking world", but they don't necessarily exist side by side. If you're in a car dreaming and the car tips up, then the dream tips too... Oh, go and watch it. Now. I'm having another go... If only for that last, chilling and cruel ten second shot. Nolan, you TEASE!