Simply put, Inception is a brilliant mind-fuck. A clusterfuck of genius, if you will. A fucking great movie.
At its heart, the film is about Dom Cobb, a man who is a "dream thief." His character completes extractions in which he and his team steal valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious of his marks during the dream state. The key here is that the dream may not be that of the mark, but instead may be the dream of a member of his team (where they have more control) making the mark more vulnerable. Cobb’s talent has made him and his team the best in the world of corporate espionage. It has also, we learn, made him a fugitive, keeping Cobb from his children.
After failing an initial extraction of intel from the mind of the opening mark, Saito, Cobb is offered a chance at redemption by Saito himself. He wants Cobb to perform inception --- the action of placing an idea in the mind of a target rather than stealing an idea. Saito promises that this job could give Cobb his life back but only if he can accomplish the task.
Cobb and his team retreat to Paris where a new architect is found. The architect literally creates the dreams. Meanwhile, Cobb exits to Africa to search for Eames, the forger. The forger is the person who can emulate any subconscious projection, basically becoming someone the mark trusts.
During preparation, we learn that Cobb has a deep, dark secret. Literally. Team members discover Mal, Cobb's dead wife, lurking in the dream world and causing chaos at every turn. We eventually discover that the dream world of Cobb's is actually a set of memories, something Cobb urges the others to avoid.
Eventually, the team hits the mark and begins to go through multiple levels of the dream world, building up to a crescendo of brain-pounding scenes --- anti-gravity fights, "kicks," armed members of the subconscious, explosions, shoot-outs, you name it. We also learn Cobb's true secret about his wife and her death.
In the end we are left with a big question, though, as to the reality of the final scene. After two and a half hours of pulse-pounding action and riveting discoveries, the blank canvas we see just before the credits is brilliant. Audience, interpret!
So, what was the best thing about the film? The acting. DiCaprio and Gordon-Levitt hit it out of the park. Ellen Page is also very noteworthy. This movie is deep so we are introduced to these completely foreign concepts via her character. As things are explained to her, they are explained to us. Perhaps my favorite actor was Tom Hardy, playing Eames, the forger. He is the comic-relief, so to say. But it's his scenes where he and Joseph Gordon-Levitt riff off one another that capture a fun, adventurous spirit.
Another amazing aspect of this film are the effects. The trailer let us see a lot of amazing sprinkles of CGI goodness, but it was just the beginning. The city folding in on itself was inspired. But it was the zero-gravity hotel fight that will live on for most viewers.
The screenplay is also top-notch. It wasn't just a color-by-numbers plot. Inception was a carefully crafted masterpiece of time-honored thematic elements woven together to make a complete story. Every character has a purpose. Every shot has a rhyme. Every cut has a reason.After some reflection, it is clear to me that Inception is a masterpiece of storytelling.
Overall, this is a top-notch, high-caliber film. In fact, I dare say Inception is the best film I have seen since There Will Be Blood, more than two years ago.
I give Inception an A. Fucking A! (10/10)