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Inception ****


Is it worth $10? Yes

“Inception” couldn’t have come at a better time. In a summer full of tired retreads, here is a movie that is completely fresh and original in every way. Each scene merges imagination and thought seamlessly, and the end result is a brilliantly told mind-bending action drama that’s one of the best movies of the year.

Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) have perfected the process of “dream-sharing,” in which they invade another person’s dream in order to extract information. More difficult is the concept of “inception,” which means planting an idea in someone’s mind and getting the person to believe it’s his/her original thought.

Good thing “difficult” doesn’t mean it can’t be done. By promising Dom, who’s a wanted criminal, that he’ll be able to return to America to be with his children, corporate mogul Saito (Ken Watanabe) convinces Dom to use inception on the son (Cillian Murphy) of his competitor (Pete Postlethwaite). What Dom and his team (Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao) don’t realize is how Dom’s ex-wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) will affect the mission, and how far they’ll have to go to stay alive.

There are numerous layers to the dreams, including dreams within dreams and then some. That sounds like it could be confusing, but writer/director Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight”) has so carefully and expertly constructed the story that what’s happening – and why – is always very clear.

Better, Nolan explores the premise with great curiosity, and keeps us hooked as the levels of dreams and reality continuously offer superb drama and action. It’s also fascinating to watch as dream worlds are created and altered, as memories affect and invade dreams, and as people adapt to and live with the ramifications of their actions both in dreams and reality.

The visual effects look stunning, and the editing, especially of the climactic sequence, is masterful. With so many story elements a lesser director could’ve gotten lost in the mix, but Nolan smartly keeps the focus on DiCaprio’s Dom. And when you have one of the most talented actors alive giving yet another phenomenal performance in what is fast becoming a great, great career, it only makes sense that success would follow. As for the rest of the cast, Cotillard is a captivating and haunting presence as Mal, and Gordon-Levitt very nicely handles a zero gravity sequence.

Thank you, Christopher Nolan, for reminding Hollywood and audiences everywhere what a new, innovative idea looks like, and for executing your vision with such precision. “Inception” bursts with creativity and imagination in every frame, and is a truly marvelous, unforgettable experience.

Did you know?
Nolan tried to capture as much of the film in-camera as possible, and relied on visual effects only when necessary. Because of this, the actors had their equilibrium challenged by gravity-defying sets that were designed to revolve a full 360 degrees, and another set constructed on a giant gimbal that put everything and everyone on “tilt.”


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