DVD Release Date:  November 30, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  July 16, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action throughout)
Genre:  Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama, Thriller 

Run Time:  148 min.

Director:  Christopher Nolan

Actors:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite, Dileep Rao

Don't be fooled by people who tell you that if you're not gung-ho about Inception, you simply couldn't understand it. The new film from director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento, The Prestige) is complex, and its story about exploiting the dreams of others has rewards for those who can follow its story across multiple levels. But ultimately, the story doesn't quite coalesce. However, if the plot of Inception isn't quite up to the film's fascinating premise, it deserves credit for creating memorable dreamscapes and for its coherent depiction of action across several physical and temporal planes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb, an expert in extraction, the art of stealing information from people while they dream. He's a tortured soul whose marriage to Mal (Marion Cotillard) went awry and whose professional and personal lives have crumbled. When a businessman named Saito (Ken Watanabe) challenges Cobb to enter the dream world of a rival and implant, rather than extract, an idea, Cobb grabs the chance to redeem himself with one final job. Joining him are Inception team members Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy), Yusuf (Dileep Rao) and Ariadne (Ellen Page), an "architect" who builds dream worlds.

There's just one problem: Cobb is having trouble letting go of Mal, and her hold on his own subconscious manifests in, and threatens, the dream worlds that he and his team must penetrate and alter. The film increasingly becomes about Cobb's emotional trauma, revolving around his past failings as a husband and father.

Sound familiar? DiCaprio played an eerily similar role earlier this year in director Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island, and although Inception is not as well executed as Scorcese's film, its ambitious attempt to be a brainy summer megahit is commendable. Still, a film that revolves around the distinction between dreams and realities is asking for trouble. The characters' moments of confusion in determining what's real and what isn't can easily spill over to us, the audience, leaving behind those who aren't willing to try to follow the multiple levels of action and timelines the film lays out. Ecclesiastes 5:7 reminds us, "Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God." Trying to follow the different levels of Nolan's dream world can be exhausting, and the fear that the story won't amount to much substantively is difficult to shake while watching Inception. Nevertheless, the hope of an emotional, even spiritual payoff keeps us watching, even if we don't fully understand every detail.