Imagine a world where even the dreams you conjure up during sleep are not sacred, where your inner-most thoughts are rife for the stealing and where somebody is constantly waiting to mess with your mind, implanting thoughts that were never there and extracting the ones that were. If it sounds confusing then that’s because 'Inception' really is one of those multi-layered movies that really makes you sit up and pay attention.

Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is a master of extraction. With technology to aid him, he can dream-share in such a way that he can effortlessly pilfer information from deep inside people’s subconscious minds. It’s a skill that is in demand to high bidders, but also a skill that he has experimented with once too often, resulting in his demons now beginning to catch up with him. He seems to want out of the game but he’s not in a position to return home and is willing to take any risk for the person who can get him there. That person is Saito (Watanabe), a businessman intent on challenging a family empire by getting at Robert Fischer (Murphy), heir to the dynasty. But Fischer is trained in the prevention of extraction and Cobb is going to require a team of the best to pull off the mental heist.

Not only does he need people with their heads screwed on but he also needs people with very specific skills, an architect, a pharmacist (of sorts), a researcher and a professional thief. And that’s where Ariadne (Page), Yusuf (Rao), Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) and Eames (Hardy) come in. Not only are they working to beat the clock and pull off the ‘impossible’ feat, but they also have to wrestle with an invader (Cotillard) in their created dream landscape, someone who is threatening to ruin the plan.

Watch footage from the World Premiere in Windows or Quicktime.

Writer and director Christopher Nolan (‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Memento’) has assembled an amazing cast here and none of them disappoint, managing to somehow avoid becoming overshadowed by the concept. DiCaprio is the perfect leading man, inhabiting a tale of personal torture and the quest for redemption. His main co-star, the young Ellen Page, just gets better and better and Cillian Murphy proves his worth, yet again.

The charm to ‘Inception’ is that it has enough layers to avoid alienating audiences. While there’s a tale of espionage at its core, there’s also a story of lost love and heartbreak running throughout, and every chase or shoot-out seems to be followed by a moment of personal torment or a moral quandary. In this regard the concept is very cleverly thought-out and executed brilliantly.

The movie, however, is not without a few little flaws. For instance, there could be much more character development (difficult with a plot which is so intense, but necessary all the same) and maybe a layer or two (and a half-hour) less. That said, there is too much to recommend here to spend much time dwelling on the negative. As a spectacle 'Inception' explodes onto the screen, making the kind of visual impact that will be remembered. And that's probably what you'll leave the cinema thinking about... if not with a certain sense of paranoia.

Linda McGee

Listen to the 'Framerate' review of 'Inception' from RTÉ Choice.