Chris Nolan rings a gong like nobody's business. Here's what I think when I walk out of one of his movies: "That was some heck of a gong-ringing, Chris." I feel summoned and dismissed in a state of awe, and also a little numb with ass sleepiness.
Kung, kung, kung goes the music. Kung, kung, kung goes the main character as he struggles against his demons (he's always an obsessed, broken person struggling against his demons). Kung, kung, kung goes the sterile but fashionably bleak and violent world that hero inhabits inhabits.
(Honesty, who's ass wouldn't get a little weary after all that kunging?)
"Sorry, gents. The 'Midnight Run' Midnight Madness Dress-Up Screening had to be canceled. Yaphet Kotto has ptomaine poisoning and Mr. DeNiro told us to 'Get f*****d'. "
Sometimes, Chris Nolan's films are like watching Blade Runner get raped by a Sudoku puzzle. I haven't yet exited a one thinking, "Gee, I can't wait to see that again!". I do usually feel impressed, though, and with Inception I thought, "Guess it would be good to watch that again and catch more stuff."
To be clear, I don't need to fill up on the so-called "intricate plot". And no, I don't require much more in the way of understanding the mechanics and rules of dream-entry. I was never all that much interested in nailing them down in the first place because Nolan opportunistically devises and employs them from the get go. (Leo DiCaprio and his team of dream-busters can pretty much make anything appear in the dreams they bust into, but they almost never do, even when faced with mortal peril. DiCaprio's subconscious is apparently a danger to everybody's safety, but none of the other characters seem to possess a subconscious at all, which is highly convenient and pretty unbelievable.)
The reason I'll probably see Inception again is because Nolan likes to pack a lot of stuff in and make it fly by, and I'm interested in gleaning a little more character and catharsis out of all that gong-ringing. The actors are really good, the production is top notch, and one or two of the action set pieces were top notch, so why not?
Still, would it have killed Nolan to do a little something more onscreen with Ellen Page or the kid from 3rd Rock? Inception, like the Batman movies before it, seems burdened with flat, rather stolid and colorless "mannequin world" around its hero. Apart from the occasional clever aside about the madness of the plot, the secondary characters don't exist to do much except advance the story mechanics. And Page and 3rd Rock guy are really good here.
"Come back, come on... I'll let your character have a favourite ice cream flavour... how 'bout that? And a cherished childhood pet!"
About the ending (SPOILER ALERT? A movie about dreams that ends with "maybe it's all a dream?" coda needs a SPOILER ALERT? Seriously?) ... all the Internet conjecture is much ado about nothing. (On the Internet, impossible!)
Leo gets a happy ending and maybe it's a dream, maybe not. Who cares? I'm not sure Nolan's making any point here except maybe "reality is fragile", or "what does it matter as long as your happy?" or some other similarly trite sentiment that the song "Sh-Boom" by The Chords didn't already capture in a much more doo-woppy fashion.
I personally think Nolan was just having fun with his last shot, folks. I wish he'd do a little more of that, from time to time.