The film is pretty much incomprehensible at the beginning, which is entirely intentional, as it reflects the maxim that you are plunged into a dream and that you can't remember when it started. After a weird encounter that comes back later in the film, we see Leonardo DiCaprio's Cobb and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) do an extremely intricate "job" with Saito (Ken Watanabe), some sort of energy magnate, and you see why we need some information on the whole process.
After a dizzying set of (as Ebert and the film said) "dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams" and weird uprisings that I thought were (as my friend said) "cliché" but then realized otherwise, Saito deems the process of him being protected a failure, but tips the two off about what really could help him out: an inception. Don't believe what the trailer tells you, or else you'll be as screwed as I was going into this film, as an inception is pretty much an idea that is put into someone's head and designed to make the person in question think that they were who thought it up. Arthur tries to back Cobb away from the job, but Cobb is tempted by Saito's terms of the deal, which apparently will "bring him home."
But, at this point, you're asking: who exactly are Cobb and Arthur? Apparently, they are contractors (techincally "extractors") from some unseen employer who go into dreams made by an "architect" for a certain person and retrieve information from the person's ever-flowing subconscious, which the person cannot control and that flows the info into certain locales. Cobb also lends his services in protecting a person's subconscious from extractors because he knows all about how one would "break into" (as said before) the dreams. Cobb is the best in the business in this field.
They lose their architect on their previous excursion, so they have to find a new one for the present work at hand, which happens to be planting a subliminal message into another energy magnate's (Pete Postlethwaite) son's (Cillian Murphy) head that he will disband the company and allow Saito to have an energy monopoly. They find the best in the business in that field, Ariadne (Ellen Page, looking like she stepped out of that Cisco commercial), who has another agenda besides just doing her work, which is Cobb's past and his dreams (involving his wife Mal, played by Marion Cotillard in a role that is as disturbing and similar to Michelle Williams' wife-to-DiCaprio role in "Shutter Island"), which she feels are necessary to know about. And we find that Cobb gives out lots of instructions, but doesn't follow any of them himself.
I will leave it to you to see this film, which I recommend, though it does have some problems. As said above, dialogue is not a strong suit of Nolan's work, whether it be just poor or overly "expositional" (which is what people said about "The Last Airbender"). Also, as my friend said, there are not just a few "clichés" in the plot. And also, as a friend noted, the film uses "montage techniques" a little too much. But the biggest problem is the "emotion" (which many have mentioned). Whenever Cobb and Mal's relationship comes up, the film stumbles a bit, going between (as said before) "creepy" and sentimental. I mean, I guess what happens is warranted, but it felt a little tedious at the end. How many films are you going to have where DiCaprio plays a character who is good at their job but is pestered by some sort of problem within? I also found something else: the (as others have said) "set piece" pretty much determined how interesting a sequence would be, and Nolan hit it correctly most times.
Some of the cast members (including DiCaprio, Page, and Tom Berenger) are not always (as has been said) "satisfactory" for different reasons, but, as has been said, Gordon-Levitt, along with Murphy and Tom Hardy, do very good jobs in their roles. But no matter about the faltering: this is a film definitely worth seeing, despite the stumbles, for what it has to offer, for the (as has been said) "ensuing discussion," and as a very enjoyable summer film that seems caught "in limbo" (as they say in the film) between being a repeat viewer and a first timer (although I, like Lisa Schwarzbaum, will probably watch it again). B