Last Saturday, I and a friend of mine saw Christopher Nolan’s newest movie, “Inception”. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It was exciting. It was able to hold my attention and interest during the whole two and a half hours of its running time and had good actors and performances. I had expected to hate this movie – instead I can say that it was an okay movie. A little over average, I would say. However, now that I’m looking back at the movie, I realize that there’s a lot of questionable things about the plot of the movie. Before I go into this movie, let me just say that I have quite a few problems with Nolan. I disliked his “Batman” movies for instance (which I know will surprise many due to their almost universal love, but they just can’t hold a candle to Tim Burton’s Batman movies!). I’ll also want to say that many people have found this movie, “Inception”, to be complex. It has been said that you have to pay close attention during the film’s running to understand what’s going on. I must say that I wasn’t confused at any moment. I didn’t see how you could be since the main characters are constantly explaining everything that’s happening and why it’s happening.
The movies protagonist, Mr. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), is on the run from the law. He’s accused of murdering his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard). He desperately wants to go back home to his children, but has no way of doing so. Cobb lives in a world where technology has become so advanced you can actually go into people’s dreams and steal their ideas. Cobb is a thief who has been specializing in this area. He messes up, though, on one mission, making it impossible for him to work for the people he’s been giving the ideas to. Luckily, Mr. Saiko (the man whose ideas Cobb attempted to steal) offers Cobb a deal he can’t refuse: Cobb is asked to plant a destructive idea into Mr. Saiko’s rivals mind and Cobb will be freed from all criminal charges by Mr. Saiko, which will make it possible for Cobb to go home and be reunited with his kids. Cobb agrees to this deal, and so Cobb is off to gather a team for performing an Inception (the typical movie /television cliché of gathering up the “super” team), for the act off setting an idea into somebody’s mind. He forms up a team including a master thief called Eames (Tom Hardy), two architects to design the “dreams” known as Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Adriane (Ellen Page) and a protector, Yusuf (Dileep Rio). Mr. Saiko insists on coming with the team to make sure that Cobb does not cheat him. They enter the mind of a young man, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) by boarding the same 10 hour flight than him. There the team will have the time to do their operation. Before I continue on the movie’s plot, I just want to mention how happy I was to see Cillian Murphy again. He played “Scarecrow” in “Batman Begins”, in which he was seen way, way, way too little off. In this movie he gets the screen time he deserves; he is a talented actor who can pull of many incredibly different kinds of roles. He was creepy and scary in “Batman Begins”, in this he was a confused, sad man who’s lost in his dream world. I hope to see him in more block-buster movies!
What I find weird about “Inception” is that what the main characters are doing during the whole movie is just plain wrong. To go into somebody else’s mind and manipulate him to do something he perhaps normally would never do is a strange thing to do. Their basically brainwashing him! I know this might just be a typical movie convention to motivate the story line, but what they are doing is so hideously amoral that it goes beyond comprehension! Not only that, but also why they do it is highly questionable. Mr. Saiko is a successful business man who owns one of the world’s biggest corporate empires. The problem is that Robert Fischer’s father’s empire is as big, if not bigger than Saiko’s. Now, the old man has kicked the bucket and Robert is about to inherit his father’s corporation. Mr. Saiko wants to get Robert to destroy the empire which he is to inherit, so his empire can be the biggest in the world. It is mentioned that performing Inception is highly illegal, but everybody on the team – even Adriane, a young student – has no problem doing it. Even the motivation seems to never bother anyone, not even the director. In the end of the film, the idea is safely nested into Robert’s brain, he will bring down his dead fathers empire, and Cobb goes home. No problems or consequences for brainwashing (for the sake of money) at all. So it seems like the movie is trying to say it’s perfectly okay to violate somebody’s mind for the sake of money and being able to do better business. So… Is this movie for extreme capitalism? Everything is morally okay to do if it’s for money? You can toy with some poor innocent guys mind just because he makes a little bit more money than you? Now I know that Cobb is doing it to be able to be see his kids again. But this wakes up another question. How can Mr. Saiko just get rid of all criminal charges against Cobb? My interpretation was that he can do it because he’s so powerful and rich. Since it frees Cobb from false charges, the movie only shows that kind of power being good. Cobb was innocent, so it’s good he’s freed from it. But here’s the thing: Cobb happened to be innocent! What if he would have actually killed his wife? Then it would have been terrible that Mr. Saiko would have freed him from his charges. Having that kind of power while not actually being somehow aware of the law and most importantly it’s spirit is just plain awful and dangerous. He’s a business man, which makes it highly probable that he does things only for improving his money affairs. Why does the movie relate to this idea so calmly?
I have to admit that the special effects are breathtaking. Everything looks real. The different levels of dream just blend into one another. The movie has also an interesting take on what an idea is. It talks about ideas being a parasite; a virus that can take over the mind in mere seconds. This idea is similar to Richard Dawkins “meme” theory (that an idea wants to survive, which means that it evolves as time goes by and changes so that it can survive, grow and spread). Even if I like that part of the movie, it still doesn’t justify the weird pro-extreme capitalism attitude the movie has. The movie accepts a future where money truly rules everything as an okay and natural thing. Yikes! Another thing that bothered me was that the business man, Mr. Saiko, gets all these more “normal” people like Arthur and Adriane to work for him without getting anything out of it. So the business man has everyone wrapped around his little finger, just like he seems to have the whole world. Capitalism just seems to be blooming out of this film; long live ruthless and amoral money affairs!
Plot aside there are some other major problems with the movie. The music used in this film tries to hammer in emotions. A good example is when the team gets into any kind of trouble; the music then would play so loud and dramatically it felt like it was saying to the viewer “Be excited! Be very excited! If you’re not excited, then you’re an idiot!” Also the movie left me with the feeling that Nolan was trying to prove how smart he is. It felt very pretentious to me. Also Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Cobb, was disturbingly similar to the character he played in “Shutter Island”, which he made just before “Inception”. They both are tormented by their past due to feeling guilty about the death of their wives and are haunted by these women throughout the entire movie. Is it that Nolan copied some ideas from “Shutter Island” or is DiCaprio just such an average actor that he plays the same character in every movie?
“Inception” should be taken as a fun, entertaining action movie. Nothing more. “Inception” is a lot better than Nolan’s “Batman” movies. If you see this movie, you should watch it with a pretty laid back and non-analyzing attitude. You will no doubt be entertained and feel very satisfied when the credits roll. Also it is hard not to be touched by the honest and optimistic portrayal of the father-son relationship shown through Cillian Murphy’s performance. Robert Fischer’s feelings for his father go through many changes throughout the movie; he feels rejected and misunderstood by his father, but at the end comes to the conclusion that his father did love him (which he before strongly disbelieved).
“Inception” is not a bad movie. It’s just not great either. It’s good, but not the movie of this decade.