Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Tom Beringer
Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action, Sci-fi thriller
Inception feels like it was adapted from a long and complicated novel--though it was, in fact, concocted inside the brain of Christopher Nolan, (Memento) who wrote, produced, and directed the film. Anyhoo, screen adaptations of long and complicated novels often have that feeling of being condensed and compacted--where each plot twist is given only sketchy attention because we have to move along at lightning speed and try to get all those myriad elements in during the allotted time--in this case, creating a two and a half hour, mile-a-minute thriller that's a real challenge to follow.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, a guy who can enter someone else's dream and either extract information, or plant a seed in that person's mind that can trigger a change in his behavior in the real world. Cobb is hired by an Asian businessman (Ken Watanabe) to screw with the head of a dead rival's son, (Cillian Murphy) to implant the idea to disband his father's empire, and thus save the world from more corporate consolidation.
A subplot involves Cobb's deceased wife, (Marion Cotillard) with whom he has some major unresolved issues. She keeps showing up in the dreams, distracting him from his mission and potentially throwing a monkey wrench into the whole operation.
Inception's real fascination is its dream within a dream within a dream dreaminess, (ahem) and the fantasy--one that I suspect most of us have had--of forsaking "reality" to reside exclusively in the dream world.
While the film tries to present itself as a psychological thriller, its real appeal is going to be to action fans who revel in shoot-em-up and crap exploding all over the place. And even though the action is highly imaginative, with wowie-zowie special effects, (Paris folding in on itself, and other mind-bending images) the wild action is taken to the extent of overkill, and I found myself getting numbed out and just kind of bored with it after a while.
Hans Zimmer's soundtrack is one of the best things about Inception, but unfortunately, it's ceaselessly loud and overbearing. On top of that, there are times when you really can't make out what the actors are saying, and that's a bummer in a movie that needs your total unblinking concentration, or you are lost in a maze of WHA- WHA HAPPEN?.
Final analysis: Just like my geeky cousin Marvin, Inception has a lot of warts, but shows flashes of brilliance.