Cobb is a master dream extractor. His job, for years, has been to steal innermost secrets, corporate or otherwise, by entering the target persons dreams.
Cobb, unable to be with his kids, gets one final chance to return to them as the reward for doing inception, which — as opposed to extraction — means planting an idea, instead of stealing one.
Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins), has made an extremely interesting movie worth discussing. Which I can’t do without spoiling it. Which is why you should stop reading, if you haven’t already seen the film.
What The Hell
Like all other recent movies, at 2,5 hours Inception is simply too long. Unlike The Dark Knight, however, it’s not way too long. No doubt this is due to the intensity of both the subject matter and the action on screen. You’ll be entertained for the duration, even if you don’t get what’s going on. Which brings me to the crux of this review.
This film is complex. And I don’t mean complex like installing iTunes on Windows without the bloatware. I mean complex like trying to solve a 50x50x50 Rubiks cube blindfolded. There’s layer upon layer upon layer of intentional confusion. So much that it becomes clear in hindsight that Nolan wants to be ambiguous. It’s likely you’ll leave the theater not knowing exactly what happened.
Which is what I want to give a shot at explaining. Second spoiler warning.
Planting An Idea
We learn at one point, that planting an idea in someones mind, is like a planting a virus. This idea can grow and grow until it defines your life. We learn at the end that Cobb planted an idea in his own wife, the idea that you can’t be sure the world is real. Well the idea grew in his wife until she killed herself, thinking she’d wake up. The idea came to also define Cobbs life, as it left him maniacally checking his spinning top for proof that he’s awake (if it spins eternally it means he’s dreaming). Letting go of this doubt becomes the subtext of the film and comes to fruition right at the end, where Cobb — returned to his kids — starts the top spinning. Before verifying whether he’s in a dream or not, his kids distract him, and as he walks towards them, he walks away from the still-spinning top. As the film cuts to black before we see the top fall over, the audience is left wondering whether he was really dreaming or not. All we know for sure is that Cobb did learn to let go. His journey is complete. Whether he’s dreaming or not.
This is where Nolan really bugs me. He could have easily made the ending less ambiguous. He even dropped hints — mindtraps — early on that started me down a completely different path.
Remember when Ken Watanabes character says the word “Inception” the first time? I thought I had it there; that Leos character was in fact dreaming… that the inception was actually targeted at Cobb. Perhaps he’s stuck in Limbo and his real world wife and kids were trying to wake him up — the entire film being a metaphor for saving Cobb from Limbo.
Incidentally, I don’t think Cobb was dreaming. The kids wore sligthly different clothes, and looked a tad older.
The bottomline is, Nolan really bugged me with this one, but even so, the watchability and craftmanship of this film is undeniable. The music is good, the effects are unquestionably real-looking, and the acting is superb. Even though I want to, I can’t get myself to give this annoying film a bad rating. Inception is mindboggling.