When was the last time you had your mind blown by a movie? Because when "Inception" ends and the lights come up, you'll be sitting in your seat, staring at the screen, wondering what the hell just happened.
Of course, it won't be the first time director Christopher Nolan has shaken us out of the apathy that modern moviegoing induces. "Inception" blends the blockbuster enormity of his "Dark Knight" with the indie insights of "Memento" to create an all-encompassing experience that makes most other summer films seem mediocre.
Like "Memento," this is one you'll need to see several times, backwards and forwards, to fully grasp. And since part of the fun is Nolan's insistence on keeping us unmoored, you won't find any spoilers here.
But the basics are these: Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb, a futuristic thief who specializes in rifling through people's brains while they dream. Though this is not a job without risks, his new assignment is about to raise the stakes.
When a mysterious businessman (Ken Watanabe) asks Dom to change- rather than simply steal - the thoughts of a competitor (Cillian Murphy), Dom's colleagues (including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page) balk. They'd have to travel deeper into the recesses of their target's subconscious, which poses extreme danger for everyone involved. But Dom has been a haunted man since his wife (Marion Cotillard) died, and this mission may be his best chance to find some peace.
No synopsis could possibly do justice to the complex universe Nolan fashions as we go deeper into each visually ornate, emotionally intricate dreamscape. Granted, not every element works perfectly; Cotillard's storyline feels underdeveloped, and the action could have been tightened up. But the ambition on display is so huge, and the filmmaking so intelligent, you'll emerge feeling as if you've just watched an entire season of the greatest sci-fi series never made.
With "Inception," Nolan acknowledges that no one could create a movie as exciting, as unexpected, as startling as the dreams we invent for ourselves. But it's evident by now that he's never going to give up trying.
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