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With: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas, Tai-Li Lee, Claire Geare, Magnus Nolan, Talulah Riley
Written by: Christopher Nolan
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout
Running Time: 148
Date: 08/07/2010

Inception (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dream Team

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With only seven films under his belt, filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) has proven himself a master of time juggling; he rarely presents a story in chronological order. He often flips time, or stacks time on top of itself, balancing several simultaneous storylines precariously, but remarkably clearly. Inception is one intense, complex story, but it's never less than clear and it's always imaginative and entertaining.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled "extractor," able to enter into people's dreams to find information. A businessman (Ken Watanabe) hires him to plant an idea in the mind of a competitor, even though this may not be possible. Cobb assembles a team (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, etc.) and prepares for the complicated job, which will require creating three dreams-within-dreams. Unfortunately, the subject (Cillian Murphy) has been trained for such invasions and the job will be far more dangerous than planned. That, plus Cobb's dead wife (Marion Cotillard) keeps unexpectedly turning up inside the dreams and wreaking havoc of her own. If the team fails, they could end up trapped in a subconscious limbo forever.

Many are already proclaiming the film a masterpiece, which could merely be the result of an especially barren summer. It's a terrific film, but it's a bit too long and lacks a strong emotional connection with any of the characters. It's an ensemble piece on a roller coaster ride; there's no time to stop and get to know anyone. Aside from DiCaprio, who delivers a couple of intense speeches, there's little time for these great actors to really show their chops, and even if the film earns a whole raft of Oscar nominations, I don't foresee any of the actors getting mentioned.

Nolan's previous film, the masterful The Dark Knight, was a film noir for a very dark, uncertain time. It tapped directly into a certain mood. On the other hand, Inception doesn't really represent any current fears or desires, save for a vague fear of technology. And for a film about dreams, it doesn't have much in the way of dream logic, as David Lynch or Luis Bunuel could do so well. It doesn't really compare with anything its audience might actually dream. But I complain too much. Aside from all this, Inception is really a very intelligent, slam-bang popcorn movie, the power of which should not be underestimated, just as it should not be overrated. It's filled with terrific ideas and mind-blowing moments. Nearly everyone who attends will get his or her money's worth.

Warner Home Video ran out of Blu-Ray screeners, and so I received a regular DVD. It looks terrific, of course, but there are only four short featurettes as extras. I expect the Blu-Ray has more, but I also expect that Warner may be laying in wait for a more spectacular collector's edition in the future.

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