When Christopher Nolan directs, expect greatness and, above all, originality. In his highly anticipated new film, "Inception," Nolan pulls out all the stops, taking his audience on an intellectual ride that thrills at every turn. Be forewarned: Clear thinking and concentration are prerequisites to properly process this incredible mind-blowing experience.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an expert in the art of extraction. Extraction: the removal of thoughts from people's minds while they dream. Cobb is hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe) to take extraction a step further, namely, inception. Inception: the planting of an idea during a dream while having the dreamer believe it's his own idea. Heady stuff, but well worth the effort in grasping the concept.
Cobb assembles a crack crew that includes Ellen Page as an architect who creates landscapes for the dream; Tom Hardy, a forger who's able to assume the identities of people within the dream; and right-hand man Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the guy who ties up all the loose ends when the dreams get messy.
Oscar winner Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") portrays Cobb's deceased wife who uncontrollably haunts his dreams and compromises his expertise. While she sabotages his subconscious, everyone's lives are put at risk. (I found it amusing that Nolan used Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" as background music for the dream sequences.)
Nolan once again employs "the film unfolding backward" device he utilized in "Memento," which keeps the audience on its toes. Not known for stooping to gimmicks (i.e. 3D), Nolan skips the unnecessary and relies upon inventive camerawork coupled with solid storytelling. The result: "Inception" is so visually astounding it literally takes your breath away.
I almost felt unqualified to critique this film without a second viewing. There is just so much to savor in this brain-engaging masterpiece. If "Inception" doesn't manage to creep into your dreams, you may have left your thinking cap at home.
— Pam Nadon