A brainwreck wrapped in a riddle hiding under a not particularly interesting movie
Yeah, it's kinda like The Matrix, only with powerful drugs instead of computer jackholes in the back of your head to get to a weird mind-bending alternate world inside your own mind and the minds of others. Please to close your eyes and suspend your disbelief: There are people who know how to control their own dreams. They look like Leonardo DiCaprio, and his old college professor Michael Caine (kinda acting like Alfred in the last Batman The Dark Knight flick, also directed by Inception director overachiever Christopher Nolan, only there's no Batman and no Joker and less fun), and Ellen Page from Juno, who has never looked more like she's 12 years old and is also completely unnecessary except to be there to ask questions on behalf of the audience—except the one question of why, why so much talking?
Page gets one micro-moment where there's a chance to flex some dramaturgy and it just comes off as one more item on a mobius-strip-checklist of requirements to get this whole fucking enterprise set up for the great unraveling of the big, wooly ball of this yarn. And if you're there, in a seat, you paid for the ticket, and there's a point where you might want to leave. This is a correct and proper response to this movie, but you're not getting a refund, so sit there, because you are going to want to leave before the Good Part, even though this movie is so fucking tedious and annoying in its endless and multiple explanations and descriptions of the Rules and the Requirements and What the Hell is Happening that the mind begins to wander and you notice what a great hairline Leonardo DiCaprio has, he should be a movie star, and wowsers, Marion Cotillard is va-va-gorgeous and even though she has one of those little pimple/mole bumps on her forehead, it doesn't slow her game down one bit, but jeez it seems like they keep trying to get that little dot out of the picture frame, seriously.
Anyway, there are all these people you need—a dream team, if you will—to affect the dreams of others in order to do super-important shit like industrial espionage. And, yeah, it's kinda like Aeon Flux because so many people get shot it's ridiculous and a joke within a joke within a reference inside a gimmick. Hey, didn't Leonardo DiCaprio just do a movie where you weren't—yeah this movie is kinda like Shutter Island. So it's not the worst movie ever made, and yeah it's like Memento but nowhere near as good. And there's the Good Part, when this whole ship within a bottle inside a soap bubble containing a house of cards in the shape of a sphere balancing on a spiderweb woven inside the brain of the tortured souls who wrote this 3-D-Escher print of a sudoku puzzle really rolls, really plays. You know, a Good Part, a sustained moment with a high level of music and accumulated tension—along with genuine irritation directed toward the movie itself, trippy!—and movement and an impressive special effects fight scene featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the whole thing comes down and then you might as well just leave, or wake up. Also featuring a bunch of special effects that look like special effects, not like dreams, it's as if the people who made this movie got caught up in this movie and forgot it was a movie.