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Inception: What Works For It Works Against It

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Writer/Director Christopher Nolan is a master at creating thought-provoking films. It started with Memento back in 2000 and was followed by other hits like Insomnia, The Prestige, Batman Begins, and the amazing The Dark Knight. Now he is back with his most complex film ever - Inception.

This film deals with a group that can enter a person's dreams and steal their secrets. The leader of this group is Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio). He is assisted by his "fixer" Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his "architect" Nash (Lucas Haas). He is trying to steal the "secrets" of Saito (Ken Watanabe).

What Dom wants more than anything is to return to the States and see his two children, but there is some mystery as to why he can not return. He decides to take one last case in the hopes it will enable him to go home. This time the case involves one of Saito's rivals, a man named Fischer (Cillian Murphy). Dom and his group need to invade the man's dreams and plant an "inception," which is a desire on his part to do something that he normally would not do.

In order to do this Dom and his group, minus Nash but with the addition of a new "architect" named Ariadne (Ellen Page) and a "forger" named Eames (Tom Hardy), must go into three dream levels. This means they must create a dream within a dream within a dream. This is a very dangerous mission and one which is hampered by Dom's obsession with his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who keeps invading his dreams.

This invasion into the dream worlds provides the film with a plethora of spectacular locales and special effects. The laws of the real world do not apply here and so it is a place of danger and of magic. In one of the best scenes Arthur is trapped inside the hallway of a hotel room which is spinning in three hundred and sixty degree turns. There is no regular gravity and so he must do battle while virtually floating through space.

The acting is generally fine throughout the film with DiCaprio delivering another top rate performance. The weak link is Page who brings nothing extra to her role. It also works against her that she looks to be sixteen years old. Still the overall caliber of the acting combined with the special effects, the complicated plot and the haunting musical score of Hans Zimmer make this a movie not to be missed.

There is something lacking in the film however and that is emotion. The love story of Dom and Mal should dominate the entire movie. It is a tragic story and should give the film its emotional bond with the audience, but it never does. For whatever reason the chemistry between DiCaprio and Cotillard is not as it should be, and the tragic arc of their story never takes over the audience's attention.

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.

The film is complex and thought provoking from the start. Nolan never tries to dumb down anything for his audience. In fact, he goes the other way as he wants to make us all think things out. This complexity adds to the thrill of the film but it also works against it. Audiences are so intent on figuring out the plot that they miss the emotional content also included. Maybe that is what the second viewing is for.

I scored "Inception" an enigmatic 7 out of 10.
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