Jack MacDonald’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm usually not someone who doesn't leave a rating, but my thoughts on this movie are so conflicting that it isn't right to try and measure how I felt with a number.
The style in this film is extremely similar to Inception, especially in the first half. Characters move from place to place at a breakneck pace, and dump information through dialogue. On top of that, the score is constant, even during normal conversations, making it feel like there is no levity or room to think.
This presents a particular problem because of how complicated all the concepts and mechanisms are. Inception is honestly child's play compared to how hard I had to work to understand what was going on. This issue is only exacerbated by horrible sound mixing - I probably only heard around 55-70% of what was said in the movie. (This wasn't just me, either. Everyone I saw it with had the same problem.)
The fast paced style that made Inception so intriguing and thrilling feels incredibly stale here. I don't think it's because Nolan has simply done it better before, but that this movie really lacked the emotional weight that drove Inception forward. The inclusion of Elizabeth Debicki's character and story just didn't have enough heft or centrality until the movie's last act, even though it was the film's only attempt at an emotional hook.
It also felt as though Nolan forgot about including thematic ideas to think about or emotional notes and just decided to cram all of that into a 5-10 minute window near the end of the movie. In fairness though, the film's final act is absolutely incredible, and manages to hit hard, even without any extreme emotional investment going in. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking that maybe I did care more for the story and events than I realized, based solely on the reaction I had to the conclusion.
All that being said, there is so much brilliance in this film. The action is some of the best ever - each set piece is an undeniably spectacular achievement. As expected from a Nolan film, the concept and overall story is also just genius. There were so many moments, related to the action, the story and even the characters, that made me shake my head in awe of just how clever it all was. I would be lying if I said this viewing wasn't overall positive and enjoyable.
My main takeaway from this experience is that this movie deserves a rewatch, preferably with subtitles - partially for understanding, and partially for some potential re-contextualizations. I might just love it in the future, but for now I can't say I do.