Really the only way to watch this and not laugh yourself silly is to just turn your brain off and go with the flow. I'm not sure what sort of dreams Christopher Nolan has, but they must be pretty wild to come up with all these rules used in "Inception." For instance, a guy gets shot and screams in pain. Don't they say the way to know you aren't dreaming is to pinch yourself because you don't feel pain in dreams? That seems true to me, but not apparently to Christopher Nolan, who wrote, produced, and directed "Inception."
From articles I read when this first came out, I guess it took Nolan a number of years to come up with the script. But really after all those years of work this comes out like "The Matrix" only less imaginative and without all that "Chosen One" stuff. (Kind of like how it took James Cameron 15 years to rip off the story of "Dances With Wolves.")
Anyway, the ridiculous story involves a man named Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio, who already did the whole reality/fantasy thing with "Shutter Island" earlier this year) who through vaguely explained processes can break into your dreams and steal your secrets. His right hand man is Arthur (Joseph Gordon Leavitt) and when they try to get secrets from Saito (Ken Watanabe, who was Ra's Al Guhl in Nolan's "Batman Begins") things go sour because of Cobb's dead wife Mal.
But then Saito says that he wants them to break into his rival's son's head and implant an idea to break up his company, which would be "Inception" instead of extraction. (You know because that's a lot easier than the traditional method of just finding a way to blackmail the guy or something.) That rival's son is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, who was the Scarecrow in both of Nolan's Batman movies) who has a strained relationship with his dying father.
Cobb then goes to see his father or father-in-law Michael Caine (who was in Nolan's last three pictures--seeing a pattern?) who gives him the name of a student who can help him design dream worlds. That student is Ariadne (Ellen Page, who's already been one ancient Greek-named character) who also provides a good way for Nolan to educate us on the rules of entering and designing dreams.
From there they kidnap Fischer and then there are dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams to plant the idea, which involves a lot of car chases, gun battles, and a zero-G fight that would have been cooler if we hadn't all seen "The Matrix" 11 years ago. That is where my biggest disappointment comes in; the dream sequences are so ordinary. None of that stuff you see in the previews about cities folding over on themselves and such comes into play. There's a normal city, a hotel, and then a hospital/fortress in the arctic. It's pretty blah.
I'm dogging on the movie, but I will say that it wasn't boring. It's just dumb. If you can turn your brain off and not question any of the stupid rules and mechanics of it then you'll probably enjoy it.
Of course the main conceit that it's hard to distinguish reality from dreams is hardly original. I've thought of that since I was like 7. (Though actually I used to think, "What if I'm actually on my deathbed as like an old dude and all of this is like a memory?" Did I just blow your mind?) I even wrote a story that involves a guy who can manipulate someone else's dreams. That was 5 years ago. Take that, Christopher Nolan!
Something else that stood out to me is at the end Nolan uses the exact same credit font and style as at least the Batman movies. At some point did he consciously decide that he can only do credits with that font and that style? And since I'm ragging on everything else, could Hans Zimmer dial down the Teutonic horns a little? This isn't a Norse opera for crying out loud.
That is all.
My score: 50/100 (2 stars)
Metacritic score: 74/100 (3 stars)