There is something Inception has vaguely in common with an obscure, little known short film that they only make you watch in film school. It's called Wavelength and it is illustrious for having a forty-five minute zoom-in shot. That's about the amount of time each scene takes to culminate in Inception, of particular note when a white van falls backwards off of a bridge in slow motion at the pace of a cripple descending the subway steps. We get it, they're in layer one of dream time, enough crosscutting for fuck's sake. Needless to say, I didn't much care for Wavelength and I don't much care for Inception, though I can see the merit in both.
I realize this is going to be one of those movies that everyone is on board to love. It's "thought-provoking" and "riveting" and a number of other Variety-esque quotes. Plus, Christopher Nolan wrote and directed it, automatically denoting an expected reverence for the man who gave us Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Prestige (all of which are better than Inception). Still, there isn't anything notably exceptional about the film apart from the visual effects and that Cillian Murphy loves to be in movies where he's on a plane. One of the chief annoyances is that, as a viewer, you know more of the premise and backstory from reading the plotline in advance than you do from actually seeing the movie. Let's take, I don't know, that this dream invading thing has to do with corporate espionage and that it's presumably sometime in the future, to name some examples. At least other dystopian narratives like Children of Men have the decency to specify when in the future it takes place.
Oh yeah, and no one enunciates anything. The whole time I thought Leonardo DiCaprio's name was either Tom or Don, but I guess it's Dom. No one is named that except Italian villains in badly written gangster movies, so you can understand that wasn't my first guess. And Ken Watanabe as Saito should really invest in a more savvy dialect coach. But it isn't even just these small details that left me unsatisfied. It is the overall presumption that directorial style and cinematography are enough to carry a film.
For all of my aversions, there are subtleties in the film that can still be appreciated in spite of other shortcomings. Like the use of Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" as the song Dom's team uses to come out of a dream, correlating with Marion Cotillard, who plays femme fatale Mal (not a very discrete symbolic name, is it?) and who also played Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose.
Considering its billing as an action-packed sort of movie, for the most part, when buildings aren't crumbling and cities aren't folding in half, there are quite a few dull moments. I was almost hoping Ellen Page would just break into her Juno schtick and say, "I'd like to procure a hasty abortion." The end of the film is what seems to be most impressive to audiences, begging the question: Was it all real or imagined? You can also view American Psycho, Donnie Darko, Memento (Christopher Nolan's ultimate in studied neurosis), and Fight Club to "incept" a similar question within your mind. What can you do? Psychosis is a common theme in Hollywood. Mainly because it's a common characteristic in people who run Hollywood.