Making the Grades
Computer hacking seems like child’s play compared to the criminal activities in Inception. Entering a person’s dream world by means of a special machine, these hackers manipulate and mine the human mind for information they can sell to interested clients for a hefty price. Unfortunately, this activity is hardly legal or ethical. And as a result of his part in it, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is unable to return to his wife (Marion Cotillard), children (Claire Geare, Magnus Nolan) and father (Michael Caine).
The prospect of going home improves, however, when a wealthy businessman offers Dom a new challenge. Rather than extraction, Saito (Ken Watanabe) wants the skilled mind reader to try “inception”—planting an idea in someone’s mind. The target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), a young man who is about to inherit an energy empire from his dying father (Pete Postlethwaite).
Trusting in Saito’s ability to clear his past, Dom assembles a team of invasion experts (Dileep Rao, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Tom Hardy) along with newcomer Ariadne (Ellen Page) to help him maneuver through Robert’s REM state fantasies. Together they develop a plan that will allow them to delve into the sleeping man’s subconscious and bury the seeds of a thought. But going that deep poses risks for the team and Dom is reticent to reveal just how dangerous those hazards are. Only Ariadne suspects there is something precarious about the job when she discovers Dom’s frequent, solitary journeys to his own dream world.
For audience members who’ve only been given a few clues in the movie’s trailers, the opening scenes may feel baffling and disjointed. Like The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix and Click, this film has both real and dream states. In Inception, the script bounces viewers between both and it isn’t always clear which one the audience is in. Yet the production brings an interesting sophistication to the dream theme once the storyline begins to take shape, slowly revealing the motivations, subconscious fears and secret thoughts of these compelling characters. Artistically this film also offers strong acting, editing and digital settings that contribute to the jumbled feel of the dream world.
But while the concept (and lack of sexual content) may be intriguing to parents looking for an entertainment option for their older teens, Inception is riddled with ongoing depictions of violence. Trained assassins with rounds of ammunition infiltrate nearly every level of dreams. Refusing to leave even one shell in the chambers of their guns, they fire continuously on Dom’s team members as they descend lower and lower into a subconscious state. In the meantime, massive explosions, car chases and brutal fistfights are also shown, along with a suicide. Much of the action is non-graphic, yet there are still portrayals of bloody injuries, stabbings and close range shootings.
Although the non-stop adventure will keep many viewers engaged for the film’s full runtime (almost two and a half hours), others may find that the nightmarish consequences of Inception are enough to keep them laying awake at night—afraid to enter their own dream world.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Inception.
How does Dom justify his reasons for exposing his team to so much danger in order to clear his own name? Would his motivations been less acceptable if the movie ended differently than it does? What are other situations in which many lives are risked for the sake of one?
If you were able, would you want to share a dream with someone else? What would be the benefits? What things might you discover about the other person?
Dom believes that an idea is a powerful, resilient parasite. What are some ideas that have changed the world?