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Posted: July 21, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Inception Review

Let’s begin at the end. And don’t worry, this review is spoiler free.

It is rare that a serious movie elicits a tangible response from a theater audience. This is particularly true of a movie’s final scenes. A smattering of applause as the final credits roll is most I had ever heard. That was not the case this past Saturday with my first viewing of Christopher Nolan’s "Inception."

I like to think of it as the "groan heard ‘round the theater." As the final scene cut to black in a packed theater, most of the audience, including myself, let an involuntary grunt of mixed emotions. "Come on Nolan!" we all seemed to say with our most basic of language skills, "This is how you leave us?"

Now let’s be clear, I loved this movie and, judging by overheard comments as I left the theater, so did most of the rest of the audience. And ultimately the ending was perfect, which is why Nolan was able to extract actual emotion from the audience.

Despite its length (long) and plot (extra contorted) the audience stays with Nolan the entire time on the edge of their seats, eagerly taking the next leap with Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), the film’s dream-hopping antihero. In the world of "Inception," there are people skilled at breaking into others’ dreams, creating a place or maze for this dream to occur, and then extracting information from the dreamer. Cobb and his associates are the best at committing these crimes and as such, are hired by a wealthy industrialist to attempt the even more complicated crime of inception. Instead of stealing secrets and ideas, inception is the act of planting an idea into a person’s mind in such a way that they believe they themselves created the idea.

Under normal circumstances, "Inception" would be just another heist movie with your standard gun fights and chase scenes. But as he has proven time and again, Nolan does not make normal movies. With most of the movie taking place in a dream, Nolan is able to break the rules and once again redefine a genre in much the same way he forever changed comic book films with "The Dark Knight."

If Nolan’s genius enables the film to take mind-bending flight, DiCaprio’s performance keeps it grounded in enough emotional reality that we care about what happens just as much as how it happens. Cobb is a man tortured by demons from his past and yearns for a future where he will no longer have to be a criminal on the run. As the main story of "Inception" progresses, Cobb’s past is revealed one heartbreaking detail at a time and DiCaprio plays it masterfully.

In a summer filled with disappointing sequels and remakes, "Inception" stands alone as brilliant original movie that surpasses the title of summer blockbuster. In short, everyone should see this movie.

Grade: A

MPAA Rating: PG-13

for sequences of violence and action throughout

Running Time: 148 minutes

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