50 Things About Inception (Spoilers)

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First off, I’m gonna drop a spoiler alert as big as the budget Warner Bros. gave Christopher Nolan: if you haven’t seen Inception STOP READING HERE. I’ll also update this occasionally to make sure it’s accurate. Also make sure to check out the rest of our Inception coverage.

1. The top totem just became one of the most iconic film images of the new millennium. It also serves as the thread that holds the film together. If you really pay attention to it and use common sense at the end, it will help you separate dreams from reality — just like it did for Cobb and Mal. But more on that later.

2. Tom Hardy is the man, isn’t he? He’s got that same irresistible charm that seeps out of Robert Downey Jr.’s pours. Apparently, he has shed 30 pounds and is revved up and ready to roll for the new Road Warrior flick. Badass.

3. Speaking of Hardy, his outfit in the frozen third dream world during the climax reminded me of Dan Aykroyd in Spies Like Us — “Soulfinger.” Also of not here is that by admitting he couldn’t ski during the casting process, he damn near cost himself the role. Nolan doesn’t mess around with doubles, or at least he does as little as possible, which is wise. Three words: 80s action movies.

4. Hardy’s “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” line was on of three moments that provoked a  literal laugh-out-loud moment from the crowd.

5 (28-491). Saved this for the most important number. This film has to do well, or Hollywood wins and original ideas go down into limbo. This film isn’t going to make $100 million this weekend. Probably $55 million if we are lucky (it made $60 M!). But if you love this film do what I did and go see it twice, or three times (which I will do). If you can’t afford to go see it twice, then tell everyone you know about Inception. Why should you give a damn? If you love great movies that make you think, like Vertigo, like Chinatown, like this, you should. If you like watching anything other than sequels, reboots and spin-offs you should. If you believe in art you should. Let’s do the impossible and pull of inception on Hollywood. Plant this idea: “Great original ideas exist and are worth spending big money on.”

6. The only huge hole I saw in the film? How did Robert Fischer Jr. not recognize Saito, a fellow billionaire and the head honcho of a powerful rival energy company? You’d think that even three levels down in the dream he’d recognize an adversary willing to hire an international fugitive to plant an idea inside his subconscious in order to bring down his company. Especially when he was so paranoid about inner-cranial espionage that he hired a security team to train his subconscious to protect itself.

7. On the other hand, Saito was wearing a mask and given the context Fischer believed to be true  — that Peter Browning had been responsible for the kidnapping — he could have easily overlooked his rival’s presence that deep in his subconscious. Additionally, things were frantic, Saito was dying, and he was searching for something. His mind was elsewhere and there was really no reason for him to be suspicious. I caught this on my second viewing, and upon further review is it even a hole? Not really. He did see Saito in the first dream layer, but who else would Browning use as the face of the kidnapping attempt?

8. Apparently, Cillian Murphy was considered for Batman. I was one of those people who grew up a Batman geek and saw American Psycho and said, yeah, that is Batman/Bruce Wayne. But after seeing Murphy play the conflicted heir I now believe that he too would have been a good choice to play the Caped Crusader.

9. Very similar to Shutter Island, the opening scene plays out a whole lot differently the second time you watch this film. And this film really demands a second viewing pretty immediately.

10. Leonardo DiCaprio brings out the nutjob in actresses, doesn’t he? Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier than Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road and Emily Mortimer (that chick has to be crazy in real life, because she plays a wacko in every flick) and Michelle Williams in Shutter Island, Marion Cotillard’s big blue eyes make you not want to sleep for a week.

11. Speaking of Leo, he rocked it again. Not surprised. He’s a modern-day Brando and all that, I’m one of his biggest supporters. I will say this, however, and it’s that it is easy to see that how once an actor reaches the pinnacle of the profession it is pretty easy for him to really thrive. This guy has been working off of Kingsley and Ruffalo, off of JGL and Watanabe, with directors like Scorsese and Nolan. In Leo’s defense, he chooses his projects more wisely than anybody in the business and isn’t afraid to sit years out (1999, 2003, 2005, 2009). He also has virtually no blemishes on his filmography as far as directors go post-Titanic, with the exception of The Man in the Iron Mask helmer Randall Wallace. In Leo’s defense, he was young, fresh off the Titanic and Wallace was fresh off of Braveheart. The were the kings of the world. My point here is that right now Leo is like Kobe Bryant; not only is he the best in the game, he always has the best team around him. That is a deadly combination.

12. As reader Erik points out, I originally missed this number. I think it was just to keep 13 from actually being 13, hence unlucky. Or maybe I just was finally too zombified to notice at 7 AM after writing all night and missed it? Anyway, I wanted to include his really cool interpretation of what could have actually been going on:

I have a suspicion that most everyone in the film doesn’t actually exist, except for perhaps Michael Caine and Ellen Page, and that Caine is the one that has put Cobb into a dream that Page designed. It’s possible that Page is Cobb’s daughter grown up and wanted to know if Cobb actually killed her mother.

This is certainly not my interpretation, nor do I agree with it, but it is also hard to disprove. This much is for certain: this movie will spawn more theories than JFK’s assassination.

13. This is trivial, but what is up with Leo getting away with having the same facial hair and pretty much hair in every film? Didn’t affect me in this film or Shutter Island, but there will be a point where he needs to pull a De Niro and disappear on us or risk going Cruise and being unable to disappear any longer onscreen.

14. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “give me a kiss” moment received a huge pop from the audience. That was a very successful moment in the film because things kind of hit a lull between that epic street shootout with the train and the climax. It gave the audience a nice little chuckle and a little release, and broke up the exposition nicely. It also harked back to classic Hollywood. Masterful touch.

15. Speaking of JGL, I just can’t gush enough about the choice to have him in the film. Hardy and Ellen Page are super cool, yes, but JGL is next. He’s the next superstar. I just have this feeling. I had that very same feeling about Philip Seymour Hoffman 10 years before he won an Oscar. Brick, The Lookout and Mysterious Skin might have given him an underground sizzle, and (500) Days of Summer might have put him on the map, but that anti-gravity fight in the hotel hallway might have just made his Arthur the baddest sci-fi mutha since Neo. Trust me, his agent is going to be the busiest dude in town this summer. Everybody is going to want a piece of the JGL now.

16. Even though this is a complete film that stands alone, WB is going to want a sequel. If there is an Inception sequel, it has to be Arthur’s movie. Hell, Maybe he and Ariadne even get together. Maybe he’ll roll that die? Well, either that or you start all over from scratch. How often do you have a concept and a director where you don’t even need any characters to carry over? Um, never. Except now. And if you want to avoid that ugly Inception 2 name just call it Extraction. I don’t think a sequel here would be unoriginal either — I think this environment demands further exploration. I really do think the primary remaining interest would be in the environment. I think that’s where The Matrix sequels went wrong. They had this beautiful world set up where anything was possible, yet the entire second and third films felt like they happened outside of that world.

But maybe we would still like to know more about everybody not named Cobb, Fischer and Saito? I do think those three characters are fully resolved, however, so if you bring back any of the three you damage the open resolution of this film. So, no, I do not see any possibility of a sequel with Leo — unless Cobb is merely a projection, a la Mal. To work with Nolan again even in a more limited fashion, he might sign on for that. Of course they could always do an Inception prequel, but with Cobb I feel like we already know that story. My idea for a sequel, although it would require all viewers to choose an ending for the first film, is the crew cracking into Leo’s mind to try and pull him out of limbo. In that scenario, Cobb would be the villain and the protagonist, which sounds pretty intense to me. Again, I just don’t see Nolan damaging Inception‘s ending, but you never know.

17. Then again, you could literally scrap the whole cast, keep the ground rules intact and bring in another eight ringers. Just off the top of my head: Brad Pitt (who Nolan damn near cast as Dom Cobb), Evan Rachel Wood, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Dustin Hoffman, Penelope Cruz and Vincent D’Onofrio. If this movie makes $200 million in the next 6 weeks, Nolan could forget the old cast and just throw out a wishlist like this for the sequel…and both the studio and the actors would jump at the chance. This man is building some Spielbergesque Hollywood capital. Hell, with the Internet backing him like it does he may have unprecedented capital.

18. A lot of people and events have figuratively turned Paris upside down, but nobody has been able to literally turn Paris upside down. That’s why…

19. Before you know it it will be Sir Christopher Nolan. Not afraid to be the first to predict the inevitable.

20. What about Cobb and Mal being younger than older in limbo — which is correct? Well, first off, all of that stuff happened in limbo, which from what we are told makes even less sense than the constructs of your typical dreamscape. Now, that being said, Cobb tried to hold out for as long as possible on admitting and facing the truth, but in the end you see that he had to remember that he and Mal did really grow older in limbo before they freed themselves. His visualizations even admit as much before the film is over. Regardless, even though their minds aged that way in limbo and they felt that old and believed they were that old, hence the aging since their shared subconscious was in control, I believe that when they were able to free themselves by committing suicide on the railroad track that their mind returned to its normal age back in the real world. Minus some extreme wear and tear, of course.

21. Cobb’s inception on Mal actually makes a lot of sense. They dug too deep within the layers of the dream and both lost awareness that their world, the limbo of the subconscious, was not real for a long time. But at some point Cobb figured out they were in limbo. That’s when he planted the idea inside Mal’s safe using her totem that the limbo which seemed so real for so long and caused her to0 give up was but a dream — by having the top always spin. By doing this, he permanently allowed her to lose her grasp instead of just temporarily. He believed that his inception had freed her and would allow them to escape. What he didn’t know is that the idea he planted, the virus he infected her mind with, was so strong that it would infect her mind even in the real world and ultimately lead to her tragic suicide.

Reminds me an awful lot of what Sammy Jankis’ wife did to test him. Or what Leonard convinced himself happened there. A lot of parallels exist between Lenny and Cobb, that’s for certain. You can literally see how Nolan started thinking while making Memento, if this works maybe I can do this on a much, much larger scale someday.

22. The dreamers during the climax were: 1. Yusef; 2. Arthur; 3. Eames. That’s why each one couldn’t go any deeper. Fischer is the mark whose subconscious populates the dream. Ass stated before, his mind has been trained to protect itself from such heists. By going to the “Mr. Charles” strategy and Eames turning him on Browning, he leads the crew right to what they need. Ariadne was the architect who constructed the physical layers of the dreams and in fact was only there to help Cobb deal with his Mal problem. Saito was the tourist who came along so he could get a guarantee that the job was indeed done properly. Cobb was the quarterback who used his experience to call audibles as needed, which they were. He did not want to be the architect nor the dreamer due to his lack of ability to control his projections of Mal inside the dreamscape.

23. I always say this about movies, and it’s why I love suspension of disbelief, but god damn the bad guys cannot aim. Then again, in my dreams the villains have piss-poor shooting, too. I’m a regular James Bond during my REM sleep. But that doesn’t explain Mobasa? I guess Leo just got lucky.

24. Michael Caine is like some kind of film prophet now. He was in that film for literally two minutes and his impact was immeasurable. I suppose he is at the point in his career where he has earned unquestionable wisdom.

25. What in the hell happened to Tom Berenger? I realize that we all age, but this guy really went to sh**. Did he mean to go on the Val Kilmer diet? Next to Cillian Murphy, who looks years younger than he is at 34, he just looked atrocious. On the other hand, he did seem very authentic. The No. 2 guy in a company like that would play a lot of golf, be out in the sun a ton, eat a lot of red meat and room service, travel a lot and booze, just generally probably get run down and look like hell. You’d think that the No. 2 guy would actually work a whole helluva a lot harder than the No. 1 guy and his heir — without the same quality of lifestyle. So it worked well, I suppose. Nothing wrong with the performance either, especially when he was acting as Tom Hardy acting as him — a very slippery slope. But I’m not backtracking — he has aged terribly.

Continue to page two for the final 25…

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