Inception (directed by Christopher Nolan) is a movie that I took forever to get around to watching. It isn’t perfect and relies heavily upon belief in some sketchy premises to watch but other than that it’s worth it. It made a distinct mark on pop culture, I am speaking of course about the “Inception noise” which after its debut in this movie made an appearance in a bunch of other movies and trailers, so much so you could probably date the movie based on that noise.
I can understand the stress of knowing your world is an illusion, every pleasure and pain would feel hollow because you aren’t really experiencing it but personally if you were going to get stuck anywhere, limitless subconsciousness sounds great especially if it’s malleable i.e. in your own dream.
I still prefer the Simpsons parody to the real thing, although I feel as if I say that about a lot of things. But regardless it stands up to the hype even if it isn’t something I’d pick of the shelf the watch over and over again. I think the reason for that is that it’s bogged down by a lengthy run time and heavy symbolism and plot that isn’t always explained well or that doesn’t pan out entirely.
My main problem with this movie, if I had to pick something, is that you aren’t eased into anything. You are presented with a lot of details with the general idea being that you just accept it and I understand that’s how all movies work, they wouldn’t have evolved as a form of entertainment or an art form without suspension of disbelief, and my issue isn’t that the things couldn’t happen but rather it’s all forced upon us so as to get to the next stage of the movie and yet even towards the end things are still being explained to the audience.
So far my thoughts on this film have been less than stellar but I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like it, in fact I’d be more than happy for some of the elements of the movie to be real, I’ve always loved the idea that we have entire worlds within our mind that we could access if we could just breach some internal boundaries. Since I was young I’ve been fascinated by the complex realities we weave inside our own heads, Inception is a movie reliant upon that fact and I love it because of it.
Something that occurred to me, Leonardo is no longer young enough to play a doomed heartthrob (see Titanic, The Beach and Romeo and Juliet) but while he’s grown up and is a great actor he’s not my idea of a typical action hero, however in Inception he does make a surprisingly good one. He’s no Jason Bourne though I’ll say that much.
The movie explains that when you see destruction in a dream (i.e. buildings) it is a visual representation of inner turmoil or external physical damage. Something I wondered though, if you purposefully damaged something, smashing a window for example, how would that affect the person who’s mind you are in? Would it cause some unseen damage? Would they suddenly forget blowing out the candles on their 15th birthday cake or collapse into catatonia? Or would it go unnoticed because the reality and by extension the damage isn’t real?
Inception had many viewers questioning their reality, and I think something as simple as a spinning top falling being enough to drive you nuts for two and a half hours is ingenious.
I don’t know if perhaps I was thinking too deeply into it but I loved the element of Jet setting in the movie. All the foreign landscapes add to the feel that it’s a dream, the escapism of it all. It occurred to me that with only a modest amount of tweaking this could totally be a James Bond script. Gunplay, foreign locales and even scenes of military forces chasing our characters down a snowy mountain top.
Often we are our own worst enemies, we want what is bad for us and often follow self-destructive paths, we see this clearly in Cobb because of the ordeal with his wife, he misses her. Subconsciously his mind needs and desires her, but because of the trauma involved in losing her and the lengths she was willing to go to prove reality to herself he also fears her, which creates a doppelganger of her who runs through his mind and causes trouble.
Let’s talk about supporting cast. The first proper scene with Cillian Murphy made me think of his role in Batman Begins, especially with the dreams and psychology and perspective thing. The whole thing reminded me of Scarecrow. I liked Ellen Page in her role as Ariadne, she’s smart and impressive and her character provides us with an outsider to the whole dream within a dream thing so we have a conduit for the information we need to learn. Tom hardy is so good as Eames. Before I watched Mad Max: Fury Road I hadn’t really seen him in anything and so I was surprised by his acting chops in Inception. Also Saito, played by Ken Watanabe, is a really good character; honourable and a little bit dangerous. I like him. Even whilst dying he still wants to honour his agreements.
This movie I’m sure at some point made people think deeply. We’ve all questioned reality from some point, probably the same way people did when the Matrix came out. And in fact this movie has many of the same bones as the matrix, which isn’t a criticism because both are bloody good films.
Something I enjoy about movies, even though they abuse it relentlessly, is how they play with time; “oh no this bomb will explode in 5 minutes but in reality ten minutes or more can pass before we’re down to those final few seconds to stop the detonation!” Inception is honest about it, they know they need more time than what is allotted to them and so explain it rather than leave it up to that pesky suspension of disbelief. In fact the timelessness of the whole thing adds to the movie and is definitely one of its selling points.
Finally I’ll leave off by saying that after watching Inception I was reminded of a quote from the first Harry Potter book, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. I can certainly understand the temptations of absolute creative control, to have abilities beyond reality but in the end real life and real experiences need to win out.