Movie Review: Inception

I saw Inception a few weeks ago.  Really, it is an incredible movie.

Actors:  Talented, all of them, and perfectly in their characters.

Special Effects: Thrilling, especially when wrapping a city on top of itself.

First half of the film: Extremely exciting.

Cobb is a thief, but not a thief of money or art or even identities.  He is a thief of ideas.  With technology originally developed my the military, he and his selected team enters the victim’s dreams.  Inside his victim’s very head, he can find and steal their greatest secrets.

Cobb didn’t always lead this life.  He had a family and a life before experiments with this technology left him suspect in a murder case.  Ever since he has been on the run, his children, his life, everything left behind.

Saito, a victim, says he can bring that back, for a cost:  Inception.  Entering a dream and planting an idea.  Saito wants his biggest competitor, Robert Fischer, to be convinced to split up his company, eliminating the threat it posses to Saito.  Cobb is willing, despite the risks such a deep infiltration of the mind entails.

He gathers his team for the task:  Arthur, the pointman, Cobb’s old friend who has always been with him.  Nash, the forger, a man who can take on the forms of anyone in a dream.  Ariadne, the architect, a highly intelligent woman just out of school.  Yusaf, the chemist, who has the secrets to make entering a dream state deep enough for Inception possible.  Together they will accomplish Inception.  But Cobb has memories, and he can’t keep them out of the dreams.

By all accounts, Inception begins as a credit to its writer, Christopher Nolan. I was utterly immersed by the beginning half of Inception.  The pace is non-stop.  The plot is revetting, and unfolding smoothly.  The characters all have clear personalities and goals.  Another thing I really appreciate:  the family drama is not hum-drum or forced or thrown in.  It is perfectly relevant to the plot.

All this sets up for a fantastic movie.

Second half of the film: What happened?

Like dream worlds, the movie begins to break down.  Multiple threats are introduced and given screen time, and then are not carried out. [Spoilers ahead; highlight to see] Mal runs a train through the first-level dream, but doesn’t cause trouble again until she’s just a person working against them in the third-level dream. The characters are desperate to stay out of “limbo” for stated, perfectly valid reasons, yet after they are thrown into limbo, the threats never happen, and the characters don’t even have to struggle against the effects of limbo. The real problem with these empty threats is that we invest emotion in them: we are right there with the characters, worried and scared and bright-eyed for them, waiting for their struggles, which then never happen.

Plot pinpricks start showing.  I will accept “plot holes” if they are easily fixed – a line added there, or the character having done something slightly different here.  I view these as mistakes (or “plot pinpricks”), not plot holes.  I will let myself rewrite the script a tiny bit for the sake of making a great movie.  But after four times it gets annoying!  It’s a movie, don’t make me think until the credits, especially if the thinking is fixing your goofs. . .

Then there IS a plot hole. I’ve seen some very wild theories on the internet trying to explain it, but they all cause other plot problems. There’s no getting around it.

Each of the problems on their own wouldn’t be so bad.  But they’re all in the same movie.  By the ending, my minding is struggling to make sense of chaos.  Maybe if I didn’t think so much and wasn’t so intent on analyzing everything I run across I wouldn’t have found myself so confused.  But there are movies that can hold up under scrutiny, and Christopher Nolan has written some (I’m thinking of The Dark Knight right now).

In the end, despite the fact Inception passes a higher bar than most movies, I’m irritated. Irritated that they were able to come up with great everything else and let the plot fall. Irritated that the whole premise is ruined, since it’s now “Inception’s plot.”  Also minorly irritated that I have no idea whether to recommend this to you or not.

Inception is thoroughly enjoyable until 75% of the way through.  That’s when you start scratching your head unless you’re in a trance, which is entirely possible.  Inception makes you think, and there are no pinpricks or holes in thinking.  Inception is a heist thriller, but it could also be called a psychological thriller.  If you like thrillers, I say see it.  Walk in expecting to be wowed and you will be, but either purposefully don’t think too hard and let yourself be washed into each new scene, or be prepared to walk out confused.

My Rating: 4 stars 🙂
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 for violence and action throughout.
My note:  Violence is all but bloodless.  The movie is intense, and there is a bit of language.

Have you scene Inception?  What did you think?  (And, for anyone who hasn’t seen the film, I am thoroughly open to spoiler comments.  You have been warned.)

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About Kathrine Roid

I'm an science fiction and fantasy author living in Texas with an undead parakeet and teleporting cat. Think about that for a moment.

Posted on April 20, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Still haven’t seen it, and your comments confirm some of my concerns. Thanks for the write up!

  2. I’ve seen it, and I loved it. Niccy was the one that got me to watch it, she kinda was obsessed with it for a bit, it was nice to read her FF on it 🙂
    I liked the movie. I really liked the ending, where you don’t know if it’s really happening, or if it’s just a dream in his head. Really liked it and how they got deeper and deeper, and how something could take normal time to us, then the layer before that, it was a second of that time 🙂 I really liked that 🙂

    • This is sort of a secret, but I’m planning on another post soon detailing my thoughts on the ending, the characters, and anything in Inception that made me think enough to create a coherent paragraph around.

  3. The Dark Knight doesn’t have plot holes? Are you kidding? The Joker disappears from the party after Batman and Rachel get thrown out the window. Also, when escaping from prison there’s an explosion behind him which doesn’t seem to harm him but somehow incapacitates the cops in front of him. Off the top of my head those are the two biggest.

    • Funny, I can think of a plot whole in the Dark Knight now. Not everything I wrote yesterday I agree with today. When the people on the boats are told if they don’t blow up the other boat they both get destroyed, the inmates – whom are described as murders – don’t automatically destroy the other boat. That goes against human nature. I suppose that plot problem is really one of taste: I disagree with the philosophy being illustrated. The two plot problems you mentioned are kind of what I would call “plot prinpricks.” We can assume the Joker left, and get irked at the explosion inconsistency while knowing it would be easy to have fixed that. Still, good movies shouldn’t leave so much to the viewers’ assumption. IMDB has a list of such inconsistencies for every movie in their database (those lists tend to spoil it for me, though!).

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