Science-fiction features often involve time travel or strange worlds. In Christopher Nolan's heist thriller Inception, the concepts converge through the realm of dreams. With his trusty associate, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a fine foil), Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio, in a role that recalls Shutter Island) steals ideas for clients from the minds of competitors. Fallen on hard times, he's become estranged from his family and hopes one last extraction will set things right. Along comes Saito (Ken Watanabe, Batman Begins), who hires Cobb to plant an idea in the mind of energy magnate Fischer (Cillian Murphy, another Batman vet). Less experienced with the art of inception, Cobb ropes in an architecture student (Ellen Page), a chemist (Dileep Rao), and a forger (Tom Hardy) for assistance. During their preparations, Page's Ariadne stumbles upon a secret that may jeopardize the entire operation: Cobb is losing the ability to control his subconscious (Marion Cotillard plays a figure from his past). Until this point, the scenario can be confusing, since the action begins inside a dream before returning to reality. Then, after the team gets to Fischer, three dream states play out at once, resulting in four narratives, including events in the real world. It all makes sense within the rules Nolan establishes, but the impatient may find themselves much like Guy Pearce in Memento: completely confused. If Inception doesn't hit the same heights as The Dark Knight, Nolan's finest film to date, it's a gravity-defying spectacular to rival Dark City and The Matrix. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Expires Mar 1, 2013

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