Inception (2010) – Movie Review and Discussion

Inception is a 2010 Sci-fi movie directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and other A-list performers.

The story revolves around Cobb (Leonardo), an extraction specialist put on a special mission to perform an inception on his client’s competitor in business. Extraction is the process of stealing an idea or a secret from a person through his/her dream using layers of dreams to attain their subconscious, whereas, Inception is the exact opposite of extraction, here the idea is not stolen but is planted in a person’s subconscious so that the idea will start to define the person and his personality.

Christopher Nolan’s process of Inception in the movie is achieved by penetrating through 3 layers of the subjects’ dreams, in this case, the subject is Cillian Murphy. Let us look at the structure of the movie from three perspectives – Performance, Direction & Plot.

THE PERFORMANCES

All the lead performers give their best in terms of acting: Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon, Tom Hardy, Elliot Page, Michael Caine & Ken Watanabe have all done justice to their roles. But it is Leonardo Dicaprio & Marion Cotillard, who steal the show with stellar performances

Both Leonardo and Marion have gotten under the skin of their characters, which represents guilt and revenge. Since there is no direct antagonist in the movie, Cobb played by Leonardo is the assumed antagonist as his role causes all the ripples in an otherwise perfectly executed plan to perform inception on Fisher (Cillian Murphy). Mal played by Marion is the representation of Cobb’s guilt that frequently surfaces on any level of a dream that could potentially sabotage the plan.

Cobb is a father who wants to get back to his children but he is tagged as a criminal and is a Wanted man by the cops for performing inception on his wife which ultimately causes Mal’s death in reality. This enactment of hiding guilt and mourning for the death of his wife by Dicaprio is still lauded as one of his best performances. The rest of the cast blends in equally as pawns to the mission and does everything in their power to achieve this monumental task of instilling an idea in Fisher’s subconscious. Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, and Elliot Page are exceptional in their roles & are beautifully placed by the director to unravel the mystery of Mal’s interference while in a dream. This brings us to the second layer of the blog – Direction.

THE DIRECTION

This movie is indeed a “dream” project of ace director Christopher Nolan, who
believes more in practical moviemaking than visual effects to tell stories. He is at home when conveying basic human nature in an unbelievable story-telling format. In Inception, Nolan impresses viewers with his love for practical effects with scenes such as a train crossing the streets in the middle of an alleyway in New York or blowing up miniatures of huge buildings, without wholly depending on VFX.

In typical Nolan style, he does not try to convey emotions in a generic or over-the-top manner instead he conveys all the emotions along with the story, with subtlety. Nolan is just brilliant in bringing the emotions of pain, love, and tragedy. A fight scene in which the entire hallway is unstable and devoid of gravity deserves kudos for its execution.
Nolan builds his world similarly in all his films, which often leave the audience spellbound. Inception ranks among Nolan’s finest pieces of work.

THE PLOT

Cobb and Gordon are underworld extraction specialists who earn a living from projects given by their clients. In an effort to gain secrets from a businessman, Cobb and Gordon are tricked into an audition by that businessman. The powerful businessman played by Ken Watanabe then makes Cobb an offer that he can’t resist – to perform an inception on his competitor’s son Fischer. The aim of the inception is to make Fischer not take over his father’s legacy as a businessman which will result in Saito (Ken) becoming the corporate superpower of the world.  Cobb forms a team of specialists for the mission. The way to plant the idea into Fischer’s subconscious is to dive into 3 layers of the subject’s dream. The subject is the person who is getting his idea stolen or planted, and the dreamer is the person who owns the dream space and can be modified by the architect in their team. In the movie, Cobb and his team use various methods of delusion to make Fischer believe that he is not dreaming. Nolan brilliantly fuses real-life dream rules into the structure of Inception, so that the audience can connect to the story regardless of its mind-bending pattern. Playing with emotions and tactics to cheat Fischer into believing he need not take over his father’s possessions, the plot tries to conclude whether the team achieves their mission or not!

Here lies another twist “The Limbo” – which is an unending space in the subconscious where time and reality are a mess. The limbo, all of a sudden, acts as a 4th layer in the dream world. How did Cobb and his team overcome these challenges? And how they get out of there alive forms the basic plot of Inception.

The finale of the movie where Cobb returns to his children is still widely debated, whether the scene is a dream or a reality. We are yet to get an official statement from Nolan, which would put a full stop to a decade full of fan theories.

– Ajith Kumar

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