What I liked about the film:
We are in a new age of cinema. The studios are after preexisting properties that will offer up huge profits because of their built-in audience and merchandising possibilities. So when an original idea comes around, it's very very refreshing. Original and refreshing say it all when it comes to Inception. The movie cant be tied down to any one particular genre of film. It is science fiction, action, thriller, heist film, and above all else, it's intelligent.
Nolan creates a modern world where people insert themselves into our dreams to steal our deepest secrets. The primary arc of the film is attempting a new concept in dreams: inception. The concept that someone could plant an idea into our deepest subconscious so that it because a part of our thinking in reality... brilliant!
Cillian Murphy is the target of the primary heist. He is the son of a very wealthy, self-made man. Murphy is set to take over his father's empire and the group want to attempt inception on him so he breaks up his empire in an attempt to "be his own man".
Ken Watanabe is Saito, Murphy's competition. He hires the group of dream thieves in hopes of financially benefiting from the inception of Murphy.
Leonardo DiCaprio is the leader of the group. He is a hired gun to corporations who need him to steal information from their competitor's subconscious.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is DiCaprio's right hand man. He is very skilled in the dream world and knows all the rules of it.
Ellen Page is an architecture student brought in to build the elaborate world necessary to pull off the inception in Murphy's character.
Tom Hardy is one of the coolest characters in the film. He has the ability to manipulate the way he looks in the dream world, which is necessary to the success of the team.
Dileep Rao plays a chemist in charge of keeping the team sedated long enough to pull off the heist. He is a vital part of the team.
Then there is the amazing Marion Cotillard, DiCaprio's wife in the film. She, in the most creative of ways, plays the antagonist of the film. You see, because the entire team is in the dream world together, every character's subconscious is part of the world. DiCaprio's troubled past with his wife has made her the villain to the entire crew.
Nolan just does NOT get the credit he deserves for his writing; that also goes for the co-writer of Inception, Christopher's brother, Jonathan. I am going to be careful in this part of the review not to give anything away. If I say minor spoiler, I'm not giving anything away that will ruin your experience, major spoiler will, you get the picture.
I will give you just one example of the writing. To achieve the inception into Murphy's character, one level of the dream world will not be enough. The team has tried, and succeeded by attempting a dream within a dream, that's two levels of the dream world. For Murphy's character, the team will attempt a third level of dreaming, how awesome is that!? Three, simultaneous dream worlds, as well as reality to keep track of, without losing the audience. This is where you see the Nolan brothers greatness in writing. They progress the story without losing us along the way.
[END MINOR SPOILER]
The Action/Special Effects
During the third level of the dream world, the level in which the team was to attempt the inception, Murphy's character dies. Well the team quickly explains that a FOURTH level of dream world is not only possible but necessary to achieve the inception. DiCaprio and Page's character go to the fourth level to resurrect Murphy's character back into the third level. Why am I telling you this spoiler? Read on.
[END MAJOR SPOILER]
The editing is the best I have ever seen. Let me say this again, the BEST I HAVE EVER SEEN. Lee Smith and Christopher Nolan had an unimaginable task at hand. The climax of the movie takes place at multiple levels of the dream world, AT THE SAME TIME. The editing was crucial to the audience's experience.
Earlier in the film, it's explained that five minutes of sleep in the real world is an hour in the first level of the dream world, 12 hours in the second level, etc. So the climaxes at different levels in the dream world have to coincide at differing speeds before all of the characters wake up from their sleep. The characters at the higher levels of dream have more time than the characters at lower levels of the dream world to achieve their tasks. All of this is done BRILLIANTLY!
What I didn't like about the movie:
The movie's plot is some of the best material ever written for the big screen. Too bad the same can't be said about the subplot of the film. Without giving anything away, the subplot of the movie has to do with DiCaprio's troubled past with his wife, as I mentioned earlier. I see where it was necessary to explain certain plot points, but I have to criticize Nolan's choice to bring this subplot to the forefront. I did, however, enjoy Cotillard playing the antagonist as a "projection" due to DiCaprio's subconscious; very creative work.
Ellen Page's Character
I really like Page. I think she's a great young actress who doesn't necessarily fit any one particular Hollywood mold. Her character is vital to the mission at hand. She has to build the entire dream world the crew is in, at multiple levels. Her character is used as a vehicle to explain the rules of the dream world to the audience. Forgiven Mr. Nolan, the movie is too good to be upset by this.
Thank you, Mr. Nolan, thank you, Mr. DiCaprio, for restoring my faith in movies and originality. You have no idea what this movie has meant to me. Thank you.