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Josh Reviews Inception!

Thank goodness – finally a good movie! I was beginning to think that Toy Story 3 was going to be the only bright spot in this rather dismal summer of movies.

With Inception, writer/director Christopher Nolan reunites a great many members of his Batman ensemble (Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe) with some terrific new faces (Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, and Marion Cotillard) to create a wonderfully mind-bending twisty-turny dream of a movie.

I went in knowing practically zero about the plot, which I think is the best way to approach Inception, so I’m going to avoid even a hint of a plot summary here. I will tell you that Mr. Nolan and his team have been able to create yet another tense, fun piece of summer-movie entertainment that is also sophisticated and adult. There’s some great action in Inception, but this isn’t one of those check-your-brain-at-the-door summer blockbusters.

I’ll be interested to see how well Inception holds up to multiple viewings. Will I remain as entranced by the layers-within-layers narrative structure, or will the movie become boring once I know how things unfold? It’s hard to say, but on this first pass I found the film’s M.C. Escher staircase-like structure to be a hoot.

Right now, Christopher Nolan’s greatest competition is with himself. He’s directed so many wonderful films that I adore with such fervor, that I can see it starting to become a challenge for his new films to stack up to his previous work. Indeed, underneath all the pyrotechnics and special-effects wizardry, Inception is actually a much simpler film that the brilliantly complex Memento. And, while exciting, it lacks the edge-of-your-seat-shit-is-going-DOWN intensity of The Dark Knight.

But that still leaves Inception as a superbly entertaining film. I must again praise the cast, who really are terrific across the board. I was particularly taken with Tom Hardy as the forger Eames. He brings a toughness and a humor to the role that I found very compelling. (Hard to believe this is the same actor who was in the abominable Star Trek: Nemesis.) I also really enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as Dom Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio)’s loyal partner. I really wanted to know more about this guy!

It was fun seeing Ellen Page (Juno) in this type of film, though her character’s arc was probably the weakest part of the film. No fault of Ms. Page’s, but it seems to me that the film never really sold her friendship with Cobb. I didn’t really believe that he opened up to her about his history because he had connected with her – it just seemed like that was the point in the movie when the audience needed to learn more about what was really going on.

Quibbles aside, Inception is another winner from Christopher Nolan. Drew McWeeny over at hitfix compared Inception to Nolan’s Batman films, stating that they’re both about broken men trying (unsuccessfully) to fix things. I think that’s a fascinating way to look at these last several films that Mr. Nolan has created. I can’t wait to see what Nolan has next for us. (Dare I hope to dream that it will be The Dark Knight Returns?)

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