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I must first say that Inception passed a fairly significant test.  After just finishing SALT, we decided to make our outing a double header as we were also intrigued by this movie.  It should be noted that we exited the theater and paid for the next showing.  I’m pretty sure that a desperate hunger for a Wendy’s burger was not the sole reason for doing this honestly.

Still, there remains a hurdle to jump when a movie lasts 2.5 hours and watched (all but) back to back with another one.  Another potential barrier: a nebulous review by my son, who had seen the movie a week earlier.  His succinct critique: “there was a lot of dialogue.”   That’s obviously neither pro nor con, but based on previews of overwhelming computer generated effects, this wasn’t necessarily the feedback I would have expected.

With this extraneous introduction, I’ll point out that the time flew.  One’s mind remains fully engaged throughout this movie.  The basic idea behind the endeavor is that the subconscious is less guarded to keeping secrets secret when we dream… and when we’re connected by a mysterious device that connects others to share/create/design our dream… when the others are taking part too extract or, in this case, implant information into another person.  Sure, the premise asks a lot.  But however unusual, after the first scene settles in, we know that it looks and feels like The Sting before it ventures even further afield.

We all know by experience that a lot can happen in a dream, and the subconscious is a powerful creator of images, people, situations, conversations, and, as regularly depicted in the movie, the unpredictable.  I’ll steer away from the central plot and simply recommend that the movie be watched with as little foreknowledge as possible of its content.

But, of course, I can comment on some aspects.  Inception is not just about the visually mind-bending CGI.   The premise sounds a bit overreaching, but the writers do a good job of taking what is often a very enigmatic and fluid experience (a dream) and interpolating this to a world where much more is seemingly understood about them.  

Such as, you ask?  Consultants (bearing caper cast titles of “the Extractor,” “the Architect,” “the Point,” “the Mark,” and “the Forger”) who train executives to defend against subconscious raids, a variant drugged population who opt to live in dreams so that they experience awakening more meaningfully, an introduction of menace when someone participating in a dream changes details, and, exploring the “what happens should I die within  a dream?”  - that thing we never are quite able to do.  Please understand, death within a dream is a possibility as this is an action movie, despite the inclusion of yet more top graduates from The Storm Trooper Academy of Marksmanship (also seen in SALT).

Inception is a visually appealing and entertaining movie, and while the plot treads carefully around over-complication, the characters handily repeat again and again and again what is going on so that the the audience is not completely lost when scenes and circumstances abruptly change.

The movie can’t stand solely on visual effects and corporate espionage angle, so the motivations of the lead character, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), are neatly inserted and ultimately resolved, one way or another.  This adds some depth to the movie as his issues are not  only personal but also introduce unexpected difficulties into the tasks at hand.  However, despite a spiffy ending and the audience’s response to it, I’m still not certain that anyone actually cared about his character.  Still, it’s enough that all the actors (except an unnecessary throw away performance by Michael Caine) do a great job of making us feel that dream invasions, and all the unreality that surrounds them, are real enough.

4 of 5 STARS

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