I watched Inception last week. Yes, it was an awesome movie. Yes, I would like to see it again. Yes, I would buy it when it comes out on home video (but only if it comes with a kick-ass “Making Of”featurette”). But some people I know heralded it as a mind-blowing movie. Unfortunately, all I found to be mind-blowing was how confusing the mechanics of the Inception dream world works.
Oh, before I go on, I should warn that there is a very slight spoiler involving the ending of the film. But if you’re here, I imagine you’ve already seen the movie anyway.
There isn’t anything particularly mind-blowing about it. Popular opinion (at least according to aforementioned fellows) is that it is one big mindfuck. Apparently, there is much discussion about it on Internet forums and such. But really, there’s nothing particularly fresh about Inception‘s philosophical question. Yes, it gets you thinking about the nature of reality. But guess what? The Matrix has already done that for us. Inception is nothing more than a watered down version of what the Wachowski brothers have already created in terms of intellectual and philosophical discussion.The ending of the movie is essentially just a tease. It doesn’t serve any artistic purpose other than to suggest that we question the entire movie. Whether or not Cobb was dreaming the whole movie or not is inconsequential to the plot. I argued this with my brother. The argument clarified my stance on this movie: it isn’t a character study, and as such, Cobb’s intentions and psychology is uninteresting to me.You see, Inception is mostly an action movie (albeit an incredibly innovative and novel one) with a twist ending. The twist ending, though, isn’t enough to rile up my intellectual investigation. This movie’s intellectual appeal is weak. Any philosophical themes present were not strong enough to create a decent impression. It is not particularly complex and is in fact quite straight forward: is Cobb dreaming or not?
In contrast to Shutter Island, the reliability of a dream is unimportant as a dream is ultimately a figment of one’s imagination, and thusly inherently unreliable. If Cobb is dreaming, well, he’s just dreaming: who cares why? It doesn’t carry any implications for the rest of the world. This is not a character study, and so studying the character is ultimately the decision of viewer. If there are any philosophical questions to be asked, they would all boil down to this: Should I take the red pill, or the blue one?
I’m not saying Inception isn’t a great movie. It is certainly novel. It is certainly entertaining (though I really wished he had done more creative visuals with the dream world). But does it deserve all this intellectual murmuring that is supposedly going on everywhere? Not really. Ultimately, it’s a very slick movie that throws in a single ambiguous shot as an ending, just to remind you to do a little thinking if you haven’t already. ¶
The author reserves the right to change his mind on subsequent viewings.