A truly mind-bending trip to the movies this month…

A fragmented mind, aspects of identity and a fractured sense of self have haunted Christopher Nolan’s films since his striking debut Doodlebug back in 1997. Whether it be Guy Pearce’s memory struck Leonard in Memento, Al Pacino struggling to grasp reality (and yet another misguided Robin Williams serial killer) in Insomnia or Christian Bale’s Dark Knight grappling with his grey matter, the brain has become the battleground for Nolan’s psychological take on cinema.

So it continues with the intriguing Inception, a film already described as James Bond meets the Matrix (the names Neo…err that’s it) and fittingly hyped as the summer blockbuster, which is good for two reasons – a.) it’s not a sequel, and b.) it doesn’t look shit. Inception exists in a world where the subconscious is accessible in its dream state, essentially meaning that you can take a peak at another’s night time thoughts when the mind is at its most vulnerable and, in Leonardo DiCaprio’s case, you can nick them.

Yes, the forever-young, Scorsese-bothering, Brylcreem baby plays Dom Cobb; a master thief and extractor of dreams hell bent on tearing up the complicated world of corporate espionage. The twist in the tale lies in the ultimate heist – instead of stealing a dream he has to plant one, giving us the film’s title.

Astonishing teaser trailers and an ambiguous viral campaign involving blacked out text and something called the dream-share manual have assured a genuinely exciting buzz around the film. Nolan knows how to assemble a cast too, and with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe all clambering for screen time there promises to be no shortage of brain related brilliance.

As already established, sequels are rarely to be cherished (at least not while McG walks the earth) and yet there’s no denying that the early 1990’s were graced by glorious number 2’s. Terminator, Die Hard and Predator all came back in impressive form as the action movie hurtled towards its arguable peak. Despite John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarzenegger dropping from sight for Predator 2 they were at least handsomely replaced by Stephen Hopkins and Danny (boy) Glover. Now the Robert Rodriguez-produced Predators purrs from the undergrowth, flirting in its franchisey way (yes, we are sidestepping the paltry AVP and the frankly embarrassing AVPR).

At it’s helm, Nimrod Antal, director of the underrated Vacancy and distinctly average Armoured, handpicked by Rodriguez to help create his labour of love, having started the script himself on the set of Desperado. After Arnie, the Predator series seems to be on an unconventional slope when it comes to its stars. First Danny ‘don’t sit on that toilet’ Glover stepped up, and now Predators brings us the new skinny action hero, Adrien Brody. What to expect apart from an ill-fitting vest is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t take too much imagination. We’re in the jungle again, the original Predator is back and they’ve even cast a Latin American woman to scream expletives in a different language while Brody’s crew slowly get picked off.

By Ian Roebuck

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Originally published in issue 19 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2010