The Mind is a terrible place to hide (but an awesome place to play): My review of the film “Inception” – [Contains some spoilers]

A few months back, I literally drooled over the awesomeness that was the then-new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s surefire blockbuster film, Inception.  Well, I’ve FINALLY seen the movie itself.  Here’s my review . . .

When it comes to dreams, nothing beats the lucid ones.  You know the dreams I’m talking about.  The ones where, at some point in the dream, you become certain, without a doubt, that you are, in fact, dreaming. 

It is at that moment, that you have all the power. 

You are the Master of the Universe.  You are a god.  There are no limits to what you can do.  Everything is yours for the taking . . . and the making.  You have become the big kid in the playground of your own mind . . .

Party Hard!

At least until you wake up, and have to face your boring, crappy, normal life again.

A lucid dream – that’s what seeing Inception felt like for me.  Because if I could create the ultimate movie in my mind (and was also significantly smarter, and more creative than I actually am), I imagine it would look a lot like this.  Seriously, what more could you possibly want in a movie?  Inception offers (among other things):  

*A brilliant writer/ director (Christopher Nolan). 

* THIS guy . . .

(It pains me to note that he kept his shirt for the ENTIRE film . . . CLEARLY an oversight on Chris Nolan’s part.)

* THAT GUY . . .

(Also stayed clothed.  SO NOT COOL, Mr. Nolan!)

*A major HEIST, the likes of which you have never seen.

No . . not even there.

*Hypnotic and mind-boggling special effects that will shock and awe even the most jaded of movie goers  (I know, because I am one of them.)

*Action sequences that will leave your heart racing, even if you generally have little patience for the “Golly gee, let’s blow stuff up for no reason,” nature of action flicks (Me again!)

*A tight, if slightly convoluted, plot that will hold your interest throughout the film’s entire 2 hours and 22 minutes run time, even if you don’t always understand what the f*ck is going on . . .

*Psychologically mind-bending concepts that will give your brain one big fat “O.” (Lord knows, our brains could all use a good roll in the hay these days.).  The movie will also undoubtedly keep you up all night contemplating the meaning of it all.

“Hmmm .  . . why DID they make Leo and Joseph keep their shirts on?

*A twist ending, whose biggest “twist” may very well be that it is not a twist at all

And romance?  Well, there’s a little of that too . . .

There are some who say that Inception is best experienced by people who know absolutely nothing about it’s plot.  Well, I don’t necessarily think that’s true.  Before I watched the film, I read a few non-spoilery reviews first, because I just couldn’t help myself.  Honestly, I felt that they helped me get a better handle on what I was seeing, while not spoiling any of the film’s big surprises.

What follows is the basic premise of Inception.  So if you are a spoiler phobe / movie purist, this is where I leave you . . .  I mean it, GO!  I don’t want to get yelled at later . . .

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an expert at navigating the mine field of the human mind through dreams.  He’s a white collar criminal of a very unique kind – one hired by the most dangerous and most powerful men and women in the world to perform a task called: Extraction.  Extraction involves entering into a person’s mind while he is sleeping, and “extracting” from it information that is guarded carefully by the dreamer, when he is awake.  The information in question is typically depicted as a locked safe, hidden in the deep recesses of the Dream World.

“No WAY you’re getting my secrets, Leo!  (Can I still dream about you though?)”

Following a deep personal tragedy in his life involving his wife Mal (played by Marion Cotillard), Cobb and his “partner-in-crime” Arthur (played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, who by the magic of good genes, just seems to keep getting hotter and hotter each year), spend most of their lives on the run.  Cobb and Arthur are constantly being hunted, both by enemies they have made in the field, and by Cobb’s own inner demons, the latter of which literally plague his unconscious as he “dreamwalks.”

 

But Cobb has two children he longs to see.  He desires consistency and the comforts of home.  A powerful business man named Saito (Ken Watanabe) . . .

 . . . knows this, and uses it to his advantage.  He makes Cobb the proverbial “offer he can’t refuse:”  One Last Job. (Where have we heard THAT one before?)

But this one’s a little different . . .

Saito isn’t interested in Extraction, what he desires is Inception.  Saito wants Cobb to put an idea in the mind of his business competitor, Fischer (Cillian Murphy – He of the beautifully chiseled porcelain face, and entrancing blue eyes, who, for whatever reason, always looks a bit evil .  . . but in a good way) . . .

This implanted idea will convince Fischer to break up his empire into little, less monopolistic, pieces.  To do this, Cobb needs a team:  his bromantic buddy Arthur is the hottest  most obvious choice.  But other key players are needed.

His father (played by Michael Caine), a professor of Dream Architecture, suggests that Cobb use his star student, Ariadne (How’s THAT for a name?  No offense to all you Ariadne’s out there, of course), played by Ellen Page.

Coolest.  Girl.  Ever.

Ariadne will build Fischer’s dream world. 

The next addition to the team is a chemist, Yusuf (Dileep Rao).  He will be responsible for crafting a sedative strong enough to put the “Dream Team” and Fischer in “Dreamland” long enough to complete the job.   You see, apparently, even though dreams only last a few minutes at most, our minds work faster when in REM sleep.  Therefore, time seems slower in dreams.  (Who said action flicks weren’t educational?)

“OMG, Leo is SO dreamy!”

And, finally, there’s Eames (Tom Hardy) . . .

 . . . a con artist and master at Deception.  His job is to make Fischer believe that the people and places in the dream are creations of his own mind, and not those of intruders, who are out to alter it.  This is an important job, because our minds have natural defenses to foreign ideas — and, in Fischer’s mind, these defenses are armed and dangerous. 

Get out, you evil Dream Crasher, you!

I had never actually seen Tom Hardy’s work before Inception.  But he stole my heart in this movie.  Aside from looking like THIS. . .

(He’s the one on the left, obviously, with the tatts . . .  and the abs . . . and the gorgeous . . .)

And THIS . . .

But not like THIS . . .

(That’s Thomas Hardy . . . as in, the dude who wrote those lame books you had to read in high school.  Nice try, Google Images, but you can’t fool a fangirl!)

Hardy’s Eames is just so friggin cool!  He exudes masculinity, confidence, and, most importantly, sex appeal.  He’s smart, without being pompous or geeky.  Plus, his subtle rivalry with Gordon Levitt’s straight-laced Arthur, is a joy to watch.  I never thought any male actor would have the ability to take my eyes off of Gordon Levitt or DiCaprio in this film, but Tom Hardy succeeded in doing it for me, BIG TIME!

What follows is a classic international crime caper with one major difference:  None of what is happening is technically REAL, at least not in the way you and I think of as real.  The film also poses some very interesting questions about the origins of our inspirations, and the ways in which our everyday lives are shaped by basic assumptions we hold about what is REALITY and what is FANTASY. 

What makes your waking life REAL, and your dream life FAKE?  And who says you aren’t dreaming right NOW?  (Admit it, I just creeped you out a bit, didn’t I?)

How does Inception end?  Well, let’s just say you’ll be thinking about it, and talking about it, for some time to come . . .

In case it isn’t COMPLETELY obvious by now, I ABSOLUTELY 100% recommend this film to . . . well . . . anybody with a pulse, actually.  (I also recommend TOM HARDY to any girl with a libido, and any producer who WANTS girls with libidos to attend their manly films . . . )

Just in case you forgot what he looks like . . .

Inception is in theaters now.  Have you seen it yet?  If so, what did you think?  I’ve been just dying to pick someone else’s brain about it, since I got out of the theater last night  . . . particularly about the film’s final scene.  Never has such a small and seemingly simplistic object seemed so intriguing . . .

 

16 Comments

Filed under Inception

16 responses to “The Mind is a terrible place to hide (but an awesome place to play): My review of the film “Inception” – [Contains some spoilers]

  1. Pingback: INCEPTION – The Film I Am Most Excited to See in Summer 2010 « TV Recappers Anonymous

  2. imaginarymen

    OK I’ve been looking for a reason to see this movie. However, NO shirtless DiCaprio or JGL are big FAILS in trying to convince me!

    Mmmm Marion Cotillard – she is SO my girlcrush. She is so pretty she hurts my eyes.

    JGL must be good in this bc my blog post about him from December has sent my stats WAY up since the weekend.

    • Your blog stats don’t lie. JGL was AMAZING in this movie! He was witty, dry humored, charming, bromantic, wise, a little flirtatious with Ellen Page (and Tom Hardy, in a different way, of course ;)). And, although not shirtless, JGL wears just about the sexiest looking suit I have ever SEEN!

      And Leonardo DiCaprio . . . well, he’s still one of the best actors in the business, as far as I’m concerned. I can say that with certainty, because I no longer lust after him the way I did when I was in my early teens and he was in his early 20s. So I’m not biased. 🙂 He’s just so talented. Watching him on screen is riveting, and not just in a “I wanna sex him up” sort of way.

      If you are a Marion fan, she has a very complex, rather important role in the film. They also play Edith Piaf music throughout, as a slight nod to her La Vie en Rose performance. And seeing as you said the word “girl crush,” she definitely does a few scenes clad in some very slinky lingerie . . . if that floats your boat. 😉

      Has that helped any? 🙂

  3. Amazon Annie

    I think the movie was awesome. We stood in front of the theater talking about it for so long. Everyone had different ideas about the dreams and the ending. It really didn’t matter though, who is right or wrong. The only one who could let us know is Chris Nolan….and he’s not telling. But it certainly made y0u thnk. It’s one of those movies you’ll see again and again and find little clues or things you missed. The guys were hot and the special effects were beyond amazing. I recommend this movie for everyone…unless, because its summer, you turn your brain off and thinking is too much work!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Amazon Annie! I agree, Inception is definitely one of those movies that you could think about for hours, and talk about for twice as long, without ever running out of new theories or interesting observations. And, like you, I think that when it comes to this film, the destination is more important than the journey.

      There are any number of different ways to interpret the final scene of the film, and almost all of them are plausible. Just like dreams themselves, how you ultimately interpret Inception probably says more about you, “the dreamer” than it does about the film itself.

      So, maybe Christopher Nolan created the film without ONE definitive interpretation in mind. So what? It doesn’t make it any less fun to puzzle through . . . 🙂

      Thanks, as always, for your insightful words, Amazon Annie. I am glad you enjoyed the movie as much as I did.

  4. liztomaniafan22

    I LOVED this movie! It had a brilliant idea and amazing actors (even when they remain shirtless) and actresses (Ellen Page = Juno = awesome!)! I thought about the ending for awhile and my theories are:
    a) saito shoots him at the end (you see him pick up the gun) after giving him the idea that he will make it through customs and immigration…so therefore everything that happens afterwards is in a new limbo. did anyone else notice the kids are the SAME AGE and wear the SAME CLOTHES at the end??
    b) he did make it out by saving Saito who makes the call he said he would. And the top topples over a few seconds after the screen goes black…

    but to me the most important thing wasn’t whether its a dream or reality. its that cobb doesn’t check to see if it topples like he does before. he wanted to believe his kids were his reality so badly that it doesn’t matter if its a dream or it is in fact reality. so yah those are my theories…thanks for sharing your thoughts! i read your reviews all the time and they are all hysterical 🙂

    • Hey liztomaniafan22! (Great song, BTW! :))

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed Inception as much as I did. And I loved reading your theories about the ending! Very insightful!

      MAJOR SPOILERS below for those who haven’t seen the movie:

      I think you are absolutely right about Cobb not caring whether the world was a dream world or a reality world. He made a definite show of taking out his totem and spinning it, but, didn’t care to stay and watch to see if it fell once he saw his childrens’ faces. Yes, when it came to Mal, Cobb ultimately determined that the “dream version” paled in comparison to the real thing, and, therefore, would never be enough for him. However, when it came to Cobb’s kids, who were so young when he left, it seemed like he’d really idealized them from the beginning. He barely even recognized their voices when he spoke with them on the phone in the movie’s opening scenes.

      Now, as to both of your theories :):

      Theory 1: Nice call on Saito possibly shooting Cobb at the end. I wondered where the additional “kick” would have occurred if he was, in fact, dreaming, and your theory explains it perfectly.

      Yes, the fact that the kids wore the same clothes as they did in the dream world would seem to support that Cobb was still dreaming, especially because they didn’t appear to age AT ALL. Children that young would look very different very quickly, even if Cobb was gone for a period as short as six months of time. And it seemed like Cobb was gone for longer than that when he spoke with his father, who said, “You can’t keep bringing them presents and expect everything to be OK.” – Not something you’d say to someone who’d been gone for less than six months.

      Plus, the kids (the girl in particular) seemed OLDER when Cobb spoke with them on the phone, didn’t they? He was gone long enough for Cobb’s own mother to refuse to let him speak to his kids, and for his petulant daughter to say, “Grandma says your NEVER coming home.”

      Additionally, we can believe that Saito made phone calls to help Cobb through customs, but how did he know to call Cobb’s father to have him picked up at the airport? 🙂 (It just seemed a bit too perfect.)

      Also, many who watched the film noted that the other characters in the movie stared at Cobb in the airport, the way projections stare at “dream invaders” at other points in the movie, lending credence to the theory that he’s still “invading” Fischer’s subconscious.

      Theory 2: Before the screen went black, you definitely saw Cobb’s totem begin to topple, which would support the notion that Cobb was awake. Plus, Saito’s comment of “You’ve come to kill me,” in HIS dream world, would seem to suggest that Cobb’s mere appearance helped remind Saito that he was still a young man, and was, in fact, dreaming. You could imagine then that Cobb shooting Saito in this level of the dreamworld, would provide the “kick” the pair needed to shuffle back through the various dream levels toward reality.

      But, of course, like you said, Cobb didn’t really care either way, and, to some extent, neither did the film’s writer, Chistopher Nolan. More than anything, this was film about the journey, and Cobb’s journey was real to him and to us!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your brilliance with me. I’ll never tire of puzzling out this film! 🙂

  5. liztomaniadan22

    i know i love phoenix! do u like vampire weekend at all? haha anyways…
    i agree it definitely seemed like Cobb was away long enough that they would look older, have outgrown those outfits and moved on from playing in the exact same position 🙂 I didn’t notice the whole projection thing before but now that I think about it its true…it was all too much like a dream come true 😉 but for Cobb’s sake i hope they were his real, slowly aging, children…plus that would be good material for a sequel…
    I’m definitely going to have to see it again!

    • It’s so funny that you mentioned that! I ADORE Vampire Weekend! I actually discovered them kind of late in the game. But since then, I’ve been downloading their stuff like CRAZY! So far, I think Ottoman, Walcott, and Horchata are my favorite songs by them. But I definitely haven’t heard everything they have done yet. Are there any other songs by them that you would recommend I download? I’m always looking for new “iPod fillers.” 🙂

      I agree. Inception is DEFINITELY one of those films you can see a million times, and pick up something different each time you see it. I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD. Chris Nolan’s commentary on the film will probably be extremely intriguing. I would also love to see some short documentaries on how they did those awesome special effects!

      Yep, even though there definitely seems to be a lot of evidence to the contrary, having Cobb’s reunion with his kids be real would definitely be the happier of the two endings. So, I guess, in our minds, at least, we can stick with that until someone definitively tells us otherwise . . . 😉

  6. liztomaniadan22

    Really? Phoenix and Vampire Weekend?! I’m officially your biggest fan 😉 I like Horchata and ❤ Walcott…
    umm Oxford Comma, Giving Up the Gun and Bryn would have to be my other favorites. If you want any other song reccomendations just ask 🙂 …I'm a big music person.

    The special effects really were amazing. Folding streets and such…and I wonder if he'd say what his intrepretation of the ending was. Probably not…he's a director that keeps you guessing.

    • Thanks so much for the recommendations! Giving Up the Gun is a GREAT SONG! Awesome choice! I’ll definitely give Oxford Comma a try. You’ve just been hired as my official Music Guru! My iPod will never go hungry again! 🙂

      • liztomaniadan22

        I’m glad you liked it! and i like that title…”music guru”…what an honor 🙂 actually you should check out me and my friends website…
        laycie.webs.com
        its the stupidest thing ever but i post music stuff all the time so i think its worth putting up with all the random things we say…
        but yah i look forward to reading more on your site!!

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  10. IvanRider

    Physical pain in dreams is very rare for me. Emotional pain, however, is very real in both worlds. Also, floating. In real life, I can walk. In a dream, I’m either floating like a ghost, or cemented to something. However, the brain convinces you when you’re asleep not to care. I’ve noticed that one of the easiest ways to defeat a dream is to start asking questions. When your brain can no longer reconcile its own contradictions, it sends a panic signal to your heart to wake you up.

    The one truly nasty way around this, however, is the Type II Multiple False Awakening, where the dream is about the act of waking up in a real setting that resembles where you really did fall asleep. And where you can walk like normal in the dream world. Because in those instances, only the recurrence of waking up serves as a clue you might still be dreaming. Almost everything else is perfectly normal. Sometimes, the brain will dream you’re waking up in a bed you didn’t fall asleep in. This can trigger a memory, which will wake you up for real.

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