By now, the internet is half Inception essays, the other half being heated comment sections about Inception. Nolan's critics are not entirely wrong, but I just can't get worked up over their objections. I thought the movie was masterful, engaging, really top-shelf filmmaking. The audience I saw it with was suspended in rapt silence, until the final shot cut to black, an anguished collective groan, giving way to hearty applause. I sense a future classic. I really enjoyed seeing so many genre influences writ large (shots and ideas from movie history) worked into a fresh entertainment. I wish I had a dvd screener of it, I could do some convincing A/B shot comparisons. In no particular order: The rooftop meeting to discuss Yusef's dream drugs seemed right out of a nearly identical scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (famously, Spielberg paying the locals to take down their TV antennas to better look like wartime Egypt in Inception, a sea of satellite dishes).
The location, paired with a similar feel, a team assembled for a push into enemy territory, discussing what's next, seemed to me an unmistakable nod. The very Mission: Impossible plot of a secret team creating impersonations and clever manufactured situations to trick a guy at the end. Inception is more of a modern M:I than the Tom Cruise movies. At many points during the movie I felt retroactively hi-fived for watching the entire Mission: Impossible series. The Bond elements. Everyone calls out the machine-gun ski patrol/snow fortress as an On Her Majesty's Secret Service homage, sure. But something seemed very Nintendo Goldeneye 64 about the fortress and guards. A sort of latter-Bond amalgamation. And all-goon, all railing-kill land where you target cyphers through a rifle scope, and toss proximity mines into vent shafts. There's more certainly, but this pizza is not going to eat itself.