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Vol. LXIV, No. 29
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WOW, THAT WAS SOME DREAM: Master corporate secret procurer Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio, right) awakens from his latest attempt to steal secret’s from the dreams of his unsuspecting victims. Cobb accomplishes this by surreptitiously entering his victim’s dreams when they are both asleep.

Inception: Mediocre Confusing Mindbender That’s Not Nolan’s Best

Kam Williams

I can count on one hand the number of directors whom have had four of their films make my annual Top Ten List. In the case of Christopher Nolan, there’s Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), and The Dark Knight (2008), which was number one on my list a couple years ago. So I eagerly awaited the release of Nolan’s latest movie, a multi-layered science fiction thriller about mind control that stars Leonardo Di Caprio.

Unfortunately, Inception fails to measure up to this critic’s expectations although it is still sufficiently entertaining for me to recommend seeing. Unfortunately, the film’s flaws are considerable, starting with its length of 148 minutes. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see how about an hour’s worth of the film is actually inconsequential filler that should have been cut.

The second problem is the amount of mental gymnastics necessary to follow the convoluted plot that is desperately trying to be clever. Sorry, but I resent it when a summer blockbuster is more like an SAT test than relaxing entertainment.

However, what’s most frustrating about Inception is that it’s talk-driven as opposed to an action-driven adventure, which means that critical developments are explained verbally rather than visually. In this regard, the movie is reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code (2006) and its sequel Angels & Demons (2009) which featured Tom Hanks constantly painting word pictures.

In this film, we have a loquacious protagonist Dom Cobb (Di Caprio), who specializes in stealing corporate secrets from unsuspecting victims while they’re dreaming. Dom’s services are retained by a Japanese businessman (Ken Watanabe) who is bent on cornering the world’s energy market by neutralizing Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), the heir to the empire of Saito’s recently deceased chief competitor (Pete Postelthwaite).

Cobb conceives of a novel approach that he’s never tried before, which is to implant an idea in Fischer’s dream instead of extracting secrets from it. He assembles the personnel needed to implement the plan, a crack team, comprised of a researcher Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a forger Eames (Tom Hardy), an anesthesiologist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and an architect Ariadne (Ellen Page).

In the process of planning the mission, Cobb explains the plan to his assistants using a lot of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, which explains to the audience what’s going on. Oh, and there’s a side story about Cobb being a widower with two young children (Claire Geare and Magnus Nolan), whom he never sees because he’s a fugitive from justice who has been charged with the murder of his wife (Marion Cotillard). She’s a vengeful shrew who posthumously pops up and goes berserk in the parallel universes created in her husband’s mind.

A preposterous endless mindbender that’s worth the investment even if you can’t follow all of its meandering machinations.

Good (2 stars). Rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence. Running time: 148 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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