Inception (2010)

With Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio finally got the Keanu Reeves role that not only “put him on the map” for the lazy wannabe intellectual bourgeoisie, but also allowed him to save the world through the seven heavens/hells of dreams, nightmares, and demons of the subconscious of a bloated melodrama, Christopher Nolan’s most unnecesarily complex (read: convoluted) piece of cinema to that point, which in hindsight unsurprisingly paved the way for that mega-big-budget joke The Dark Knight Rises.

During an inception, “extractors” are on alert for a musical cue that signals an oncoming return from one dream level to the previous, whence they either get a “kick” that disturbs their cranial equilibrium allowing them to wake up, or else they die. And then they fall like dominoes back to reality, the dream of God, you know. When the tediously repeated chords of the kitsch denouement melted to images of TV series catharsis, I was looking for the nearest object to suicide with and hopefully myself awake from this tiresome nightmare.

ellen page
I’m so bored

The goal you see is to extract information from the subconscious of people by accessing their dreams, whereby you can plant an idea in the subjects head and make them think it’s their own — the dystopian ruler’s mind control wet dream. On top of that, Cobb (Di Caprio) wants to return home to his muppet children but to get there he has to carry out an inception on a powerful man with daddy issues and convince him that he wants to split said dad’s empire into two, because, we’re led on, corporate monopolies are evil. So “the best [extractor] in the business” and his crew of cardboard action heroes cook up a plan to suggest as much to the guy’s subconscious in an intricate series of dreams within dreams where the chaos of the human mind is so shaky they can pretty much pull off anything because, like, it’s metaphysical territory. The most curious inclusion in the team is Ariadne (Ellen Page), dreamscape architect if you like, yet her role as a character is to keep reminding Cobb what a bastard he is for trying to keep dead people alive in his vaginal dungeon of a subconscious ready to trap everyone in dream limbo.

leo di caprio
Nah I’m good, had an enchilada on the way over

Why (or how) did Nolan follow the fairly good Dark Knight (2008) with this unashamed cheese? It’s not like the emotional centre of the film is intrinsically bound to the twisty maze of a plot a la Memento (2000). Rather, the plot demonstrates the complexity of physical dreaming, and the emotions are there on the sidelines, strung out like bad dialogue in a messy student film. “Dreams within dreams” is such an obviously superfluous device that builds a platform for revealing clever plot twists. And then what? The greatest potential metonymy — mania in losing track of reality through dreaming — is lost to psychiatry room metaphysical vivisection of personal pain. Inception is poverty art, devoid of the extratemporal abstractions it speaks of, planting in the viewer its inception of dinner-movie platitudes for you to identify with passively as you’re distracted by the giant nothing of a plot, which is nothing more than the equivalent of an afterschool mathematics puzzle set.

Marion Cotillard
Where did daddy hide the car keys?