Christopher Nolan is known for directing two movies: Batman (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) and those other ones. The Batman movies were pretty good. The other ones
weren't so bad either.

His latest “other” movie is Inception and taken as a group with the other others (Identity, Memento, The Prestige), a pattern emerges. Nolan's movies tend to be puzzles, not just the “who did what” kind but more like the “WTF” kind. Even if you think you know what's going on, in the end you discover your were probably wrong. The payoffs, while always “surprises,” are not the cheap Twilight Zone-rip-offs many filmmakers (and reviewers) seem to think are “Clever!” or “Mind-Blowing!” but are genuine “ah-ha!” moments. And his bad guys aren't really evil so much as “highly self-interested” and even the good guy's hats are off-white: whether a charming serial killer and the cop who's after him, a guileless amnesiac and the people “helping” him or rival magicians who begin as frenemies and end up trying to kill each other, Nolan's characters are not above using other people for their own ends.

As I watched the movie I began to see riffs from other movies—a little Matrix, a little Vanilla Sky, Mission: Impossible, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, even the holodeck from “Star Trek.” but there were so many references that even if they were all influences (Nolan is also credited as screenwriter) you decide they were all mashed-up to create something new.

Cobb describes himself as a “thief.” he and his associates can “break” into a person's mind while they sleep and discover their deepest secrets. But Cobb is tired of his job, he wants to get back to his children, but he's a wanted man, accused of a crime he did not commit. It is impossible for him to prove his innocence; they only way be will regain his freedom is by buying it. To do so, he agrees to take on one last job. At this point Inception has become both homage to Hitchcock (the set-up is an elaborate MacGuffin) and a caper movie as the team assembles and works out strategies.

To tell you any more about the movie would be MAJOR SPOILERS, like telling someone who hasn't seen The Crying Game that—well, if you haven't seen it I won't spoil it for you and if you have seen it you know what I'm talking about. Suffice it to say there are major, unexpected complications and genuine jeopardy for all involved. It is refreshing to see a group of bright people actually acting like it, figuring things out, improvising, actually looking and acting like they're qualified to be doing what they are doing. And the ending is one that will leave you smiling or puzzled—or both—but it will not disappoint.

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