Movie review: Nolan dreams up a winner with “Inception”

By Andrew Judd, News Correspondent

To say that Christopher Nolan, the director of such films as “Memento,” “The Prestige” and “The Dark Knight,” has a unique style is an understatement. His latest film, “Inception,” practically oozes his trademark finesse. Those familiar with his other films will appreciate the depth of the movie’s plot.

Nolan spent roughly 10 years developing the film, and the effort shows. The film is billed as a dream-centered heist movie, which gives Nolan the liberty to create layers upon layers of plot development, as he loves to do.

This film combines big-budget action sequences with clever writing and some of the brightest stars of recent memory. Similar to other great heist movies like “Ocean’s Eleven” or “The Sting,” a team of talented cons must be assembled. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“500 Days of Summer”) plays Arthur, the point man. Also making an appearance are Ellen Page (“Juno”) who plays Ariadne the architect and Tom Hardy as Eames the forger.

Unlike other heist movies, however, “Inception” is not concerned with money or jewelry. Instead, the inception gang tries to plant an idea within a dreamer’s subconscious to manipulate his decisionmaking in the real world. Now, if that doesn’t sound like an intriguing plot, add in the fact that actions that happen to the person in the real world can translate into actions in the dream world. This leads to action scenes that take place during earthquakes and Matrix-esque zero gravity conditions.

Still not impressed? Since these are dreams, anything that can be imagined can appear in this world of fantasy, such as larger weapons and runaway railway cars.

For much of the movie, the viewer is transported into the minds of different characters, including master dream extractor Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio). Inside the minds of these characters lies a world of infinite possibility.

The truly amazing thing, however, is that this never-ending potential to imagine and create is something that every single person possesses, including the viewer. Nolan successfully creates worlds where the distinction between reality and dreams blurs, and the very authenticity of the characters’ existence is brought into question.

Each dream, each world, is vivid and believable. The resulting question is one of the movie’s major themes: When the mind can no longer tell apart a dream from reality, what’s the difference?

This is a movie that makes the viewer think. Much like Nolan’s 2001 thriller “Memento,” many questions are raised early on, and the answers are not given until the end. There are scenes that are dreams within dreams within dreams.

To see this movie and not wonder how everything relates to every other thing is to not see the movie at all. The viewer needs to be ever-cognizant of every detail. Conversations taking place in the first five minutes of the movie are referenced again in the last five minutes.

Nolan has created an intricate web of questions and answers, the former never immediately following the latter. All of this uncertainty, however, is what makes this movie so great. When all is said and done, “Inception” is a film that thoroughly engages, enthralls and infuriates its audience, in the best possible way.

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