Inception is over 2 hours long — about one hour of the movie I expected to see plus over more than another hour of action-adventure stuff. I won’t include any spoilers, so this will be a rather general commentary.
The science fictional ideas driving the story are fun and they are extrapolated beyond what is in the trailer, though only in the service of creating action-adventure sequences which consume most of the movie’s running time.
There also are frequent story-stopping lectures where people explain things to each other for the benefit of the audience — expository lumps as we say in sf. The filmmakers are afraid of losing the audience with (1) the exotic idea of how dreams can be invaded and manipulated, and (2) the multi-leveled action story. I thought they succeeded with (1) and were only partly effective with (2). Naturally I could always tell which action sequence we were in, they’re easily distinguishable visual environments. But as the film set up the climactic sequences I found myself questioning why certain events advanced the story, so I guess they partially lost me.
However, one storytelling aspect I admired, was creating a dream-invaders’ counterpart to post-traumatic stress disorder. That had the ring of truth to it.
The filmmakers must have counted on all the violent action to keep the movie from dragging, but not for me. I seriously considered leaving because by a certain point I figured I’d seen all the real story and they hadn’t made me care whether the best or worst case happened to the protagonist. I only stayed to satisfy my curiosity about the ending the filmmakers actually chose.