By Staff Sgt. Randall P. Carey
Expeditionary Times Staff
This review is 1111 characters long. I contemplated making it 1111 question marks. Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” posed several philosophical questions about reality, belief and perception. And, since I was left with 1111 questions after watching the movie, I thought that would be an appropriate response. I’ll try to offer a little more substance though.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie isn’t bad, and it’s not impossible to follow either. But if you’re not looking for a Matrix-style theoretical journey, this film is not for you.
The movie begins with Cobb (Leodnado DiCaprio, “Body of Lies”) slipping in and out of consciousness on a beach with water washing over him. A man with a gun finds Cobb and the gun hidden on his waist. He is taken to an old man who tells him he has only the gun and a brass top with him, but that he has seen the top before.
The movie suddenly switches to an almost identical setting, but with Cobb nicely dressed in a tuxedo and the man he’s talking to, Saito (Ken Watanabe, “The Last Samaurai”) appears much younger.
The men are discussing extraction, the process of stealing thoughts from someone’s dreams. It appears that Cobb is trying to convince Saito that he must let him into his dreams in order to teach him how to defend against it—but Saito is not so easily fooled. He realizes Cobb actually wants to extract information. Eventually Cobb and his partner, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), are cornered in a room with Arthur held at gunpoint by a female acquaintance of Cobb’s, Mal (Marion Cotillard, “Public Enemies”).
Mal threatens to kill Arthur, but at this point you learn two important things: 1) this is actually a dream; and 2) being killed in a dream only wakes you up, while being wounded will make you feel pain in your dream. After Mal shoots Arthur in the leg, Cobb kills him, waking him up. A lengthy chase ensues filled with gunfire, until Arthur wakes Cobb up from outside the dream. It doesn’t take long to realize that this awakened state is also a dream—and that’s only the first ten minutes.
For brevity’s sake, I’ll try to explain the nearly 2 and a half hour film’s key points of comprehension more concisely. Mal is actually Cobb’s dead wife. She committed suicide, but Cobb is blamed for her death and is continually on the run. Saito, a powerful businessman offers Cobb his freedom if he can perform the opposite of extraction, inception—implanting an idea in someone’s mind.
The target is Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy, “Batman Begins”), heir to Saito’s biggest rival. The plan is to convince Fischer to dissolve his company. To accomplish the mission Cobb and Arthur enlist several teammates including Ariadne (Ellen Paige, “Juno”) and Eames (Tom Hardy, “Bronson”).
The plan is to implant the idea in Fischer’s mind while inside of a dream inside of a dream inside of a dream. Wow.
Along the way, you’re exposed to some impressive action and superior target interdiction skills by Cobb and Eames, as well as first-rate hand-to-hand combat by Arthur.
Mal becomes the center of the plot, being the motivator of and disruption in almost every scene of the movie. You have to follow closely to realize why.
It took a lot of thought to digest exactly what happened in the movie.
I don’t mind an intellectual challenge. And I’m sure the writers of “Inception” thought the film would be just that, and appreciated it for its intricacies and thought provoking rhetoric and storyline. However, sometimes a great idea in someone’s own mind does not always translate so clearly in the perception of another. This movie is a textbook example. Deeper into the movie things got a lot more interesting and made a little more sense. But if the first thing I say when I walk out of a movie is “What?” I have doubts about whether my time was well spent.
DiCaprio, Hardy and Gordon-Levitt were great. However, Paige was annoying in ”Juno,” annoying on “Saturday Night Live,’ and annoying in “Inception.” Note to the creative staff: Don’t try so hard next time. My verdict: C