I saw the movie last night, and I liked it, but I wasn't in love with it. Outside of DiCaprio, the characters are mostly chess pieces. Lukas Haas, Peter Postlethwaite, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine each have parts that are almost inconsequential. It's perhaps a sign of Nolan's growing power in Hollywood that he could cast such performers in roles that are barely more than cameos. The rest of the cast fits their roles, but do we ever learn much about Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, or Dileep Rao? Not really. Page is an exposition machine for the audience to learn about the sf conceit, and DiCaprio. The others are interchangeable action heroes. Ken Watanabe at least has a slightly different goal than earning a buck (splitting up a corporate empire in order to earn a buck), and both Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard manage to have a little shading to them, but they're not terribly complex, either.
Where the movie succeeds is in its imagery and concept (alas, the most imaginative images were shown in the trailers, but that's hardly the film's fault). The two key scenes, visually, being the folding of the city upon itself, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's action scenes in variable gravity.
It's good enough that it earns a B or a B+, depending on my mood. But it's not quite good enough to earn an excellent rating. It's still better than everything else released this summer--at least that I've seen.
-- It seems odd to be insisting that the top falls at the end of the movie--it simply doesn't. It wouldn't become boring to wait two more seconds and see the top fall, but it would become definitive, something the end of this movie does its very best to avoid. We see the faces of the children for the first time, which suggest reality. They appear unchanged in appearance from the dream, which suggests it isn't reality. It's ambiguous and designed to fit more than one interpretation. If you view that as a drawback, fine, but don't ignore it. Nolan has shown that he likes ambiguity in his endings in the past--witness his commentary on Memento
. It has three different endings, which play back randomly, suggesting a different interpretation each time.
Also, a question. If DiCaprio is indeed dreaming at the end, then he won't wake up, will he? It was my understanding that somebody caught in limbo would spend so long dreaming that they would live a full life and "wake up" a complete vegetable. In other words, DiCaprio will have his life with his children and then, at the end, die.