Released:  2010

Cast:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine

Oscar Wins:  Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister), Best Sound Editing (Richard King), Best Sound Mixing (Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick), Best Visual Effects (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb)

Oscar Nominations:  Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (Christopher Nolan), Best Art Direction (Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowat), Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer)

SUMMARY:  Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are extractors:  they use experimental technology to share dreams with other people, during which they steal secrets.  This technique is usually used for corporate espionage.  At the beginning of the film, Cobb and Arthur are attempting an extraction from Saito (Ken Watanabe) when the dream is sabotaged by Cobb’s dead wife (Marion Cotillard).  However, Saito tells Cobb and Arthur that he was using this as a test:  he really wants them to perform inception, or the planting of an idea in someone’s subconscious (the opposite of extraction).  Saito wants to use inception to break up his competitor’s huge business.  Although Arthur claims that inception is impossible, Cobb says that he has done it before, and can do it again.  He then assembles an all-star team to help with the inception:  one member, Ariadne (Ellen Page) learns that Cobb’s subconscious frequently creates Mal in the dreams, and she usually sabotages things.

The team designs a very complicated plan to perform inception on their target.  The plan has one major drawback:  in a normal shared dream, death in the dream results in the dreamer waking up; due to the chemicals used for the inception dream, death in this dream will cause the person to enter Limbo.  According to Cobb, Limbo is a level of subconscious that is extremely difficult to get out of.

During the inception dream (which has three different levels), Saito is wounded, and Mal shows up and kills the target:  both go into Limbo.  When he and Ariadne go in to get them, Cobb confesses that he and Mal had once been stuck in Limbo together; he had used inception on her to help them escape.  Ariadne is able to find Fischer, and the two escape Limbo.  Cobb remains, and eventually finds Saito, after which they both manage to escape.  All of the participants then wake up, revealing that the inception has been successful.

MY TAKE:  In order to understand the beginning of this movie, you have to see the end of it, so be warned.  I spent the first half hour or so really confused and frustrated, as I had absolutely no idea what was going on.  In fact, I almost turned the movie off.  Thankfully, I started to piece things together after that.  Just be forewarned:  you’re not supposed to understand everything right away, but things will be explained later.

Although it requires some brainpower to understand things in this movie, it’s very good, and you won’t regret watching it.  The intensity is kept up throughout the entire film, leaving you constantly wondering/worrying if things are going to work out.  I also found myself dreading the time Mal showed up (because I knew she would), which adds another layer to the plot.

RATING:  Stick it out through the first half hour or so, and you’ll be very glad you did.

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