Inception, a reflection

Obligatory SPOILER alert – if you haven’t seen the movie then avoid this post.

Find me one good line in Inception, one profound, well written thought, and I’ll go watch it again.

Some examples of lines that are not well written: “Who’d want to be stuck in a dream for 10 years?”, “Thank you for not asking if I did it”, “The team needs someone who will understand what you’re struggling with”, “Don’t lose yourself”.

I rolled my eyes so many times that I started to get a headache. The ideas were not new, the setting for this audience member was not particularly amazing and the dialogue was appalling. The use of so many famous actors became tedious although I enjoyed the surprise revelation of the last big name at the end.

Australian citizens with American accents don’t seem quite fitting unless they’re there to tell us something. The nod to Rupert Murdoch and his son’s empire building / destruction was vapid at best.

The dialogue was poor and the idea that a young girl who looks 15 could suddenly provide all the answers that the rest of them had never seen before was frankly insulting. Another eye rolling moment was the name ‘Ariadne’ which is a reference to King Minos daughter in ancient Greek mythology. She helped a lover escape from a maze by giving him a ball of red wool. This is why we get all the maze references in the movie although they fail to live up to much.

The movie was tedious and obvious in its execution and as patronising and slow as the comic books that writer and director Nolan is probably more used to reading these days. The Batman movies weren’t quite left behind and Cillian Murphy, who played the Scarecrow, was given the junior tycoon role as Fischer jr. However, no real effort was made to give depth to the characters apart from Cobb and some story line was given to Fischer. Tom Hardy did a great job playing Eames but there really wasn’t that much to do. The rest were spouting lines that were either there to tell the audience what was going to happen or to help explain the new technology that was being used in the film.

I hate to use the word spoiler because I thought the ending was the only one possible and the hints about what it might be were given within about 15 minutes.

From Descartes to Joss Whedon there have been some great ways of examining the realities which we navigate and the socially constructed worlds we live in. Some have masterfully pointed at the weakening concepts and perceptions engineered by others: see the lies about Iraq and the WMDs, Orwell’s 1984 which is far more applicable to the Western world rather than to the USSR he was talking about. The constant illusions we accept or disregard can range from societal ills to personal breakdowns. The Matrix took the former idea to the big screen in a brilliant new way and the corridor scene in Inception was probably better than the scenes it copied.

However the big notion that Inception was meant to represent got lost somewhere in the detail and the bad writing. There wasn’t one end to wait for, but three or four, and that was two or three more than I cared about. The suggestion of schizophrenia was a good one and the grief from losing a loved one can no doubt be overwhelming. However, the personal conquest for the main character was not enough of a challenge to keep this film going.

Ideas from lucid dreaming sounded familiar (giving yourself a way of identifying reality etc) and the planting of ideas such as Derren Brown talks about meant that much of the movie wasn’t really surprising. The creativity shined through at times but even that fizzled out more often than not. I didn’t particularly like Inception and I’ve seen the idea done better by others, namely Joss Whedon. However teenage boys seem to love it (9.6 on IMDB) so who knows.

7 responses to “Inception, a reflection

  1. Those “hints” about what the ending might be are actually called forshadowing, just as the first line of this obnoxious critique hinted that this review would be exactly that.

  2. I must respectfully disagree with your critique of Inception. I felt that the concepts the film was dealing with were adequately played out.

    I thought each actor was perfect for their role; however, I do have one small disagreement with Ellen Page’s portrayal. Furthermore, I felt this film wasn’t about dialogue but ideas. One does not need to have explicit dialogue to explore an idea. Only the willingness to submit to the possibility of them.

    I have been waiting for a film that memorized me and made me actually think and I found it with Inception.

    I am no stranger to classical thought and ideas of the mind; however, I have never found a better movie that explores them in such eloquence than Inception.

    • Thank you Trent, a great comment. I couldn’t get past the dialogue and for me that’s the most important part of most movies. Movies are after all just stage productions with better effects. I can pick up Arthur Miller at any point and enjoy his works but I can’t imagine that Inception would be able to provide that. I’ll have to think about the rest. Jo

  3. Hi, Joanna.

    I’m afraid that I too must reluctantly disagree with your outlook on the film. I thought Inception was a particularly fresh (if not profound) look at a very old idea (that we may be dreaming that we’re awake and awake while we’re dreaming) and I also thought it did it without insulting the intelligence of the audience as is evidenced by the final shot.

    I also think that you may have been a tad too harsh (and perhaps a little cynical in places – “loved by teenage boys?” lol!) which could make the reader think that you already had a predisposed attitude towards this type of material before seeing it, as is evidenced by this line:

    Joanna:Movies are after all just stage productions with better effects.

    …which doesn’t exactly go the distance in giving readers the opinion that you’re being objective or open minded about this type of content. If that wasn’t the intention, then I can totally respect that.

    Perhaps you could give me an example of what you thought was a great line from a film you really like. I would love to gain some perspective from your side of the fence and try to see Inception through your eyes.


    Joanna:Find me one good line in Inception, one profound, well written thought, and I’ll go watch it again.

    May I toss my hat in here? 😀

    Recall Ariadne’s first lesson in shared dreaming. There were some pretty solid lines thrown down there. The first and foremost that comes to mind is where Cobb shares several powerful epiphanies with her, namely:

    1. We always find ourselves in the middle of a dream. We never experience the beginning of it.

    2. We never know that we’re dreaming until we awake (so how do we know when we’re dreaming?)

    3. Dreams are a circular process where the mind is creating and experiencing it’s own creation simultaneously while we are somewhere in the middle.

    I don’t know if you recall any of this. I’d be interested to know what your thoughts are.


  4. Pingback: Inception, a follow up post « Ephemeral digest

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