Where do dreams end and reality begin? This is one of the questions of Inception, a movie written and directed by Christopher that blends sci-fi, drama, psychology and the famous One Last Job.

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has a unique skill: With technology, he can enter the dreams of a person he's wired to and discover their secrets. With his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Cobb hires himself out for corporate espionage. But Cobb can't return to the United States after the death of his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), leaving him missing his two young children. Both Cobb and Arthur are on the run from a giant corporation. And Mal keeps showing up in Cobb's work, sabotaging him.

When Cobb and Arthur do a job for Saito (Ken Watanabe), he has a harder job for them: inception, planting an idea in someone's head so they think it's their own and can't help but act on it. Saito's target is Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), heir to his father's enormous energy company. And Saito promises if the job is completed successfully, Cobb can return to the U.S. and his family. However, only Cobb thinks inception is possible.

So Cobb puts together a team to create a three-leveled dream. Ariadne (Ellen Page) is the architect, the person designing the dreams. Eames (Tom Hardy) is the "forger," a master at impersonation within dreams. And Yusuf (Dileep Rao) is the chemist whose chemicals will enable them to stay in the dream. Pretty soon they're all heading into dreams within dreams, dodging the armed security that comes from Saito's subsconscious and dealing with ever-changing laws of physics.

The plot of Inception has pretty familiar elements: the criminal doing one more job for the sake of his family; gunfights, fist-fights, and car chases; and a character dealing with the loss of a spouse. Inception manages to rise above the familiar, though, thanks to some amazing visual sequences and tight direction. The dream sequences are extraordinary, unreal yet still adhering to some well-established rules (unlike The Matrix). Nolan even manages to keep three dreams running simultaneously, at different speeds, without becoming confusing or convoluted. Most of the acting is focused on DiCaprio's Cobb, who tries to ignore his demons to complete the job. The other actors are all good, and the story is solid (though it's unclear why Ariadne is the only one worried about Cobb's obsession with Mal when everyone else has worked with him longer and should know the danger Mal poses). Inception is a sci-fi movie that lays out and adheres to its own rules, and between the direction, visuals, and action, it's a very good wild ride.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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