Dominick Cobb and his business partner, Arthur, use experimental military technology to enter the subconscious minds of their targets through their dreams in order to extract secrets for the highest bidders. With a troubled past and a warrant for his arrest back at home, Cobb is offered the chance to have his slate wiped clean if he is able to perform the seemingly impossible task of ‘inception’ – planting an idea into a subconscious mind. Assembling an elite team to perform the task, the dangers of inception start to become clear as the team realise that Cobb’s personal demons are affecting his ability to do his job.
Inception (2010) – Director: Christopher Nolan
Running Length: 148 mins
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction
Since his successes with ‘Memento’, ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’, Christopher Nolan has become the go-to-guy for intelligent and exciting thrillers. Based on an idea by Nolan himself after directing the movie ‘Insomnia’, ‘Inception’ quickly became a massive hit across the globe due to its unique plot and visuals. The scene in the hotel where gravity is removed is incredibly impressive, not least because it was performed physically and with wires rather than with special effects. It remains to be said about ‘Inception’ that the complexity of the plot often becomes too hard to follow, making it feel rather pretentious and, when exposition is still being rattled through late in the second act, it is clear that the plot isn’t easy to understand or even explain.
The main trouble with ‘Inception’, as with many other offerings from Nolan, is that it lacks heart and soul. Although the actors handle their roles well, the movie itself comes across as cold and the relationships between the characters and particularly the bond between Cobb and Mal (his deceased wife, played by Marion Cotillard) lack any real chemistry. Also, the ‘dream within a dream’ concept which takes up the entire final third of the movie is unnecessarily long and could easily have been shorter without compromising the plot.
While it has its flaws, ‘Inception’ is a great thriller which has many interesting ideas and is an absolute feast for the senses.
IS ‘INCEPTION’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
It is explained towards the beginning of the movie that when someone ‘dies’ in a dream, they wake up in the real world. However, in order to gather some information, one character is shot in the leg while he is in a dream and he cries out loudly in pain. Shortly after this the character is shot in the head within the dream. There is no blood but there is a short close up of the character with a visible bullet wound in his forehead. In the real world, one character is captured and is clearly in great distress. They are not tied up or gagged but are unable to move or speak; they are dragged away and the dialogue of other characters implies that he is likely to be killed. While his friends have witnessed this, they do nothing to try to help him. During a dream, a man, who is a projection of the dreamer’s imagination and therefore not a real person, is crushed between two cars. He struggles to get free but continues to fire a gun until he is shot dead himself.
When in the dreams, if the people who are projections of the imagination become aware of intruders, they stop what they are doing and stare at them. This can be quite scary as there are often dozens of people who suddenly stop and stare intensely at the screen. At one stage, these people attack one of the female characters. They hold her tightly and a woman quickly approaches and stabs her. As previously mentioned, when someone dies in a dream, they wake up in the real world and this character is fine, however this scene starts calmly but quickly becomes frightening and violent.
The character of Mal is also quite scary as she is constantly trying to sabotage Cobb when he is inside someone’s dream. She is always violent and aggressive while in the dreams and, when her real persona is seen in flashbacks, she is seen to be mentally ill. At one point, Cobb talks on the phone to one of his children who is very young and tries to explain to the boy that his mother is dead but struggles to make him understand.
There are two instances where people are seen to commit suicide. One is during a dream and two characters lie with their heads on train tracks. As a train hurtles towards them, they talk calmly together about how they will wake up in the real world. Also, one character, while in the real world, sits on a ledge on the outside of a high building. They talk to another character and try to persuade them to jump with them, when they are unsuccessful, the character jumps to their death and the other character shouts and cries in distress.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Inception’ is both thought-provoking and visually stunning. Bursting with interesting concepts and complex ideas, it keeps you guessing about what will happen from start to finish and is bound to require repeat viewings in order for more details to be picked up on. While the content isn’t too extreme, ‘Inception’ is most definitely an ‘adults’ film. Kids are likely to become bored with the initial lack of action and complicated plot. We feel that in terms of content, ‘Inception’ should be appropriate for children aged 8 and over, however anyone younger than 12 will probably struggle to stay interested in the story.
- Violence: 2/5
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (there are a couple of touching moments between characters, one between two lovers and one between a father and son)
- Fear Factor: 3/5
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 2/5 (infrequent cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 1/5 (Mol talks about suicide in many of her scenes but this is rather oblique and not too emotive)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of family, the importance of a strong relationship with parents, the vulnerability of the subconscious, perception of reality and the philosophical question of existence. Within context the film also deals with the abstract idea of suicide as a means of escape.
Words by Laura Record