An impressively imagined, complicated turn through a Borgesian skein of nightmares, Christopher Nolan's latest mind-meld involves a team of adventurers venturing into people's dreams in order to plant ideas in people's heads. Sound complicated? It is, but Nolan manages to drip-feed exposition to make such conceits digestible.
Much of the film riffs on the classic Hero's Journey, with characters being set challenges and rising to them. However, there are knowing, jokey inversions of what is expected, too, such as the film's main female character, Ariadne (Ellen Page), going against the grain of the genre and refusing a challenge to join Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Cobb, in a dream world. One of the characters comments that "she'll be back", adding something to the effect that "they always are".
But this also has some conventional narrative tricks. There's nothing like one character giving another character a step-by-step guide to a new realm. In Inception, Cobb tells Ariadne about the dream universe in a reversion of the Matrix scenes between Neo and Morpheus. Indeed, much of this film's success is down to how embedded in our culture Matrix-style virtual reality is. That Nolan can exploit this as well as craft incredible action sequences, get fine performances from some great actors, and make it look good too – well, it's something of a master class.