Before I start off the review, I want to say this: If you haven't seen Inception yet, don't bother with my, nor anyone else's review. Just go see it. Even if you don't enjoy the entire film or don't buy into it, there is at least one minute of this film worth everyone's time. My silly little review will be here when you get back. Now then...
Inception is the story of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) a man forced to live by illegal means outside the USA and away from his children. His illegal means is a method of stealing ideas from the sedated and dreaming called "extraction". When his latest job goes south, he and his partner Arthur (Joseph-Gordon Levitt) are offered a once in a lifetime opportunity: use "inception" (planting an idea instead of stealing it) to plant an idea in the heir of an empire's head and Cobb can go home to his children.
That's about all of the plot you need to know up front (even though I told you to go see the movie first). Thankfully, Christopher Nolan's films seem to be the only films that don't have the entire plot and scenes from the whole film in the trailer, a practice which is both nauseating and disappointing, allowing you to view the movie without too many apprehensions beforehand. It also allows you to realize that this isn't a traditional story. Whether the events in the film be dream or real, the film itself is an exploration of what it is to create films and how through film the director, the writers and even the audience can sometimes go through the most therapeutic experience in their lives.
All that meaning and story wouldn't mean jack if Nolan didn't assemble his talent well. The cast is excellent: DiCaprio and Levitt deserve some awards, Ellen Page gives the first performance of her career that I've actually liked, Tom Hardy in the most fun role in the film, Ken Watanabe reminding me of why I'm such a big fan, Dileep Rao making look forward to even more work from him, Cillian Murphy giving me another one of his great sympathetic turns that I love so much from him, Marion Cotillard scaring the crap out of me, and Tom Berenger and Pete Poslethwaite, who I had to check IMDb just to make sure it was them. They may seem underwritten, but in the big picture they all fit perfectly.
On a final note, I'd like to address Hollywood in general, since they may be confused by an original film staying on top of the box office for three weeks in a row. We didn't just see this film because Nolan directed The Dark Knight. We didn't just see this film because of DiCaprio. We saw the film because we were intrigued by an original premise and wanted to learn more. We saw it again because it had the substance to allow us to come back. Love it or hate it, it is not the disposable trash you keep dumping in our laps week after week. I love films. Please take this as a lesson. Give original films a chance. I'm tired of unwanted gimmicks, remakes and sequels.