Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


The single biggest ‘Inception’ plot hole as I see it…

As previously mentioned here, I saw Christopher Nolan’s Inception during the week (in a professional capacity) and wasn’t impressed. The film is being hyped as a rare ‘intelligent’ action film, but as far as I’m concerned, for every highfalutin concept the audience is asked to get it’s head around, there are at least ten precepts of basic common sense it must studiously ignore.

How does one person get into another person’s dreams? With a piece of wire. Of course, how ingenious! The Slumberland A-Team don’t wake up when their people carrier is careering through densely packed city streets and being riddled with bullets. But drop one of them backwards into a bath and – BAM! – they’re back in the land of the living. It just makes sense!

But even taken on its own terms, which I am really loathe to do (as I find the entire sci-fi/fantasy genre cringe-some in the extreme), there seem to me to be a couple of major plot holes. And this, to my mind, is the biggest… WARNING: ***MASSIVE SPOILERS*** One of the films most nonsensical conceits is that the totem DiCaprio’s character carries everywhere with him will spin forever if he’s dreaming, but only for a short time if he’s in real life. The film ends on a cliffhanger. Finally reunited with his children, DiCaprio spins the totem to verify that he is back in the real world. It wobbles a little but seems to spin a little longer than we would expect it to. Then the screen fades to black.

The audience is left wondering whether his wife was right all along, whether this ‘reality’ is not in fact just another dream. My problem with this ending is that the ‘reality’ DiCaprio is returning to is surely the same one he left when they hatched the inception plan. And in that ‘reality’, when DiCaprio explained the spinning totem concept to Ellen Page, the totem quickly stopped spinning and fell on its side.

So unless I’m mistaken, and it’s entirely possible that I am (my patience with the intricacies of the plot began to wear thin at about the hour mark), it seems to me that there was never any question that his wife was right, there was never any question that this ‘reality’ was not actual reality. Maybe I’ve gotten this all wrong, and if I have, can someone kindly explain how?

July 18th, 2010.

95 Responses to “The single biggest ‘Inception’ plot hole as I see it…”

  1. Jamie Q Says:

    “…it seems to me that there was never any question that his wife was right, there was never any question that this ‘reality’ was not actual reality.”

    I quite agree, Eoin!

    In my opinion, the only “reality” that existed in the movie was the TRUTH that Mal was dead and that there was nothing Cobb could do about it but accept it for what it was and move on. Cobb accepting this truth was what the whole movie was about!

    The spinning top totem is a meaningless teller of reality in Cobb’s hands, because it was not his own totem to begin with. Still, he holds onto it and treats it as if it were his own in an act of self-deception: he’s in denial of the fact that his wife is dead and that he needs to let go of her. In short, whether the top drops or not is irrelevant – the top simply represents his unwillingness to let go of his wife.

    What was Cobb’s totem then? I believe Cobb’s totem was his wife, Mal; only he knew how she felt in his arms, who she was as a person, in all of her complexity and beauty (yadda yadda). Hence, when Mal commits suicide, Cobb not only loses his wife, but also his totem, ergo his sense of reality.

    Cobb tries to deny the fact that Mal is dead by avoiding his projections of her and by keeping her alive in his memories. He doesn’t want to encounter “Mal” (or rather his projection of her), because if he gets close enough to feel her, he’ll know that she’s not real and that she doesn’t exist anymore, which is far more terrifying to him than knowing whether he is “awake” or “dreaming”.

    Remember near the end of the movie when Cobb is holding the projection of his wife in his arms and he tells her that she isn’t the real Mal? That was how he knew that he “dreaming”. At that point, Cobb is able to “wake” from his “dream” and enter “reality”: a “reality” in which he knows that Mal is gone. This might be a stretch, but you could go as far as saying that knowing Mal is gone is his new totem.

    As for the mystery of the ever-spinning totem left on the table at the end of the movie, I think it’s merely there to show us that the reality in which Cobb ends up in is not reality as WE know it.
    In this case, reality is simply knowing the truth.

  2. Rachel N. Says:

    Screw this, I’m gonna play WoW.

  3. Jorge Jones Says:

    I didn’t read the replies, only your post and it annoys me about the gadget they use to enter dreams, it’s not a wire, it’s some gadget supposed to be complex and it’s the size of a suitcase so there is enough space to build something of worth, your other observation about them not waking while being shot and chase, etc. They took a special remedy supposedly powerful enough to do that, they woke in rather big falls and plunges the bathtub plunge was in another dream…and about the totem if you spin something similar on real life it OBVIOUSLY won’t fall always at the same time, it depends on a lot of factors like the velocity of rotation the angle at which is thrown etc…so you have to pick other so called plot holes, Personally I don’t buy these ones…pardon for any grammatical mistakes, I’m Portuguese.

  4. Jorge Jones Says:

    By the way, a link about you’re so called “piece of wire”, quite a complex wire lol http://www.pasivdevice.org/

  5. Jonathan Says:

    The title of the movie “Inception” is a reference to the beginning of a concept, the planting of a seed of an idea in someone else’s mind while they are dreaming, so that when they wake up, they are convinced they had an epiphany, or thought up the idea on their own… The movie itself has four of these.

    The main inception of the movie is where they plant the idea of rejecting the inheritance, thereby dismantling the company that Robert Fischer is to inherit. The flaw here is that you don’t know if this is going to be successful. Couldn’t he simply step down from the Board of Directors and take no salary? The Board would simply nominate a new CEO, probably Browning, whose interests align with the companies interests and business would continue as usual. Realistically, the board of directors would never allow one person to destroy an entire multi-billion dollar, global, mega-conglomerate.

    The second inception in the movie is where Cobb plants the idea in Mal’s mind that she does not live in reality and she has to kill herself to return to reality, so that when she does return to reality, she commits suicide. This plagues Cobb so much that Mal keeps appearing as a construct of Cobb’s subconscious.

    The third inception is based on the first… or maybe the first is a double inception. The entire mission itself seems to be an inception to convince Saito’s mind that the mission has succeeded and that his “phone call” should be made to get Cobb off the hook and give him the freedom to go back to the United States to be with his family.

    The fourth and final inception is the entire movie itself. The entire movie is a dream that Cobb is having. I speculate that his Therapist, represented by Miles, introduces him to Ariadne who represents his hypnotist who then hypnotizes him and delves into his subconscious to administer therapy and plant the inception that he can let go of the death of his wife, be his own man and be a father to his children.

  6. Eoin Says:

    Haha. Inception concept copies from unlikely source. To everyone who has called Nolan a genius and a visionary, I present…. Scrooge McDuck:


  7. soulwarrior Says:

    I don’t get the people who say “how come Ariadne knew that everyone can ski” is an argument in any way…

    I’ve been flying in my dreams and I’m pretty certain that I can’t do so in real world. Might as well try out again, but yea…
    Don’t tell me you’ve never done something “impossible” in one of your dreams? That would be just plain sad…
    And “skiing” is something far from impossible as far as I can tell. And I’m saying this with all the conviction of someone who apparently can’t ski.

  8. Colin Says:

    Turns out Nolan stole the idea for Inception from a Scrooge McDuck comic – “The Beagle Boys have entered the mansion of Scrooge McDuck while he is asleep and set plan to invade his dream with the use of a machine to ask him the combinations of the vault door”.

    “When you fall in a dream you wake up”

    Read the comic here -disneycomics.free.fr/Ducks/Rosa/show.php?num=1&loc=D2002-033&s=date

  9. Themadmathematician Says:

    This is a most rewarding and amusing comnversation. I hope I don’t kill it by pointing out that just as they say in the beginning of the film: You don’t notice what’s strange with the dream until you wake up. So there are plotholes? I’m glad you noticed, cause otherwise you’d still be dreaming. While we see the movie we are seduced by it and let our guards down, as if we dream. After the movie we notice all these little quirks. But the point is that we don’t have to make it work – because it was a film of a dream (weather the top topples or not at the end). They’re in a dream all the time. Notice how the walls close in on Cobb while he’s chased in Africa, in “reality”. And of course, in a sense any film is a dream. So with the 4 obvious levels we add the “reality”-level as level 0, the film as level “-1” which would make this conversation hanging in level “-2”. But if you look at the conversation from outside the world of people who are trying to explain it all, it almost feels as if I’m on level “-3″…

  10. Alv Says:

    For me, the biggest plothole was that Mal was certified sane by doctors. No sane person would willingly kill themselves in the belief they are living in a dreamworld. If you do, what’s to say you won’t think the next world will also be a dream, and the next and so on so forth. If you keep killing yourself, eventually you’ll make a mistake and kill yourself for real. As you can never know for sure, then only option is to NOT kill yourself in the current world.

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  12. Alex Says:

    Inception plot holes were intentional, in my opinion…
    Nolan wanted the audience to discuss the movie and NEVER achieve a definite conclusion about what really happened. The whole thing could simply be planted in Cobb’s mind by his father-in-law, who could just be his mentor in real life… Cobb’s totem proves nothing, but if you pay enough attention at the end of the movie, you can hear it wobbling and falling after the screen goes black. More food for thought.
    Here’s the old man’s words in Yusuf’s basement: “They come to be woken up, their dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?”

  13. Adam Says:

    I can’t be bothered reading all the comments above to find if someone has explained this theory, but it may well rebutt EVERY theory above – DiCaprios character FAILS to show he is back in reality after he tests the potent sedative in the meth/dream lab at the chemists house! –His attempts to spin the top are interupted by Watanabe’s character, DiCaprio character is in the chemists lab for the whole of the Inception process(about half the movie)–If there is a sequal it will have to start with DiCaprio waking in the chemists lab.

  14. alle1111 Says:

    Hi. In fact you may be more right that you think. You might not have uncovered a plothole but a hidden secret that indicates that he was, in fact, in reality and not in a dream. The moviemaker ended the movie with a cliffhanger: was he in a dream or in reality? The moviemaker maybe deliberately planted the early scene when the totem stopped spinning for the observant viewer to know that in the end he was in reality! I forgot about that scene until you brought it up.

    Although the early scene when the totem stopped spinning may also in fact just be a thing the moviemaker didn’t know was going to be a plothole, if the moviemaker really wanted the end to be a cliffhanger to which there is no sure answer.

  15. Kate Says:

    finally saw inception last night. After Scrooge McDuck, Glenn Harrold should consider taking legal action against Nolan for breaching intellectual property. At least Harrold’s take on “inception” is kinda believable. Also, id like to think in my dreams that my projected world class security force could hit a target.

  16. John Says:

    It is a DREAM, period. His kids are wearing the same clothes as in his dreams !

  17. DarylT Says:

    Conceptual holes?

    They all hook up to a device (or iPod 7 or something) that connects them in their dream state so they share the same reality. But what happens the next level down? It’s not a real device just a dream one, so what this means is you’re still in a single level of dream just you’re dreaming you’ve gone into another (and another) as part of the first. Not sure that the whole procession of kicks makes a lot of sense then, there’s only one gravity to trigger the middle ear at the top level. I’m way over thinking a fantasy concept…: )

    More obviously how come setting off explosives to accelerate the lift isn’t enough to be the ‘kick’ that wakes them up? That’s just bad physics (dream physics 101) the force of stopping which wakes them is surely less than or equal to the explosion force that accelerated them? At the very least it’s a gamble.

  18. Alec Says:

    I think that the whole movie is intended to confuse and force you to think about it well after the movie has ended, not just for conceptual reasons but so you go back again to try to figure it out.
    but as for the biggest plot hole (and this may have been explained in the movie so correct me if im wrong) is how he is enveloped in a scheme to try to get back to his kids in america. . . why not just have someone fly them over to france or wherever he is?

  19. Chadd Says:

    I have a big problem with the handling of the totems. I liked the idea, but it seems like this concept contains more than a few holes.

    The idea of the totem is that it is something with certain weight or balance characteristics that only you can positively identify. I’m fine with that. The chess piece works — only Ariadne knows the exact force needed to knock it over. She apparently even changes the characteristics of her “stock” chess piece by hollowing it out or something, on the off chance that someone gets a hold of that exact piece. If her totem requires more or less force to push it on its side, she knows she’s in a dream. No architect can replicate it because they do not have access to it. Likewise, Arthur’s weighted gambling die — no architect knows exactly how it tumbles nor even what number it’s weighted to favor. Great. I’m still on board.

    Then we come to Cobb’s totem. It’s completely different. In a dream world, it defies the laws of waking physics by spinning forever. Why is this? What is it about a dreamworld that suspends this one object’s obedience to simple laws of gravity, friction, etc? These laws apparently apply universally to other things like vans, bullets, and snowmobiles. The chess piece totem (presumably) does not float when you tap it to knock it down in a dream, nor does the weighted die do anything incredible while in dreamland. The totems work because each has a certain weight, balance, feel, heft, etc., not because of differential adherence to physical laws. If various objects were immune to dream gravity, for example, then there would be many such things that would reveal dreams, like autumn leaves falling upwards.

    Also, the characters seem rather free with the information they share about their totems — Cobb tells at least one character how his totem acts differently in dreams. Arthur reveals that his totem is a weighted die. This seems to be the same as letting someone handle the totem itself. Once Cobb gives away his totem secret, for example, why couldn’t an architect simply dream a top totem that stops spinning in the dreamworld in order to fool Cobb? Why would you ever reveal what your totem is at all? In a world in which the characters run the high risk of being asleep in each other’s presence, it seems stupid to even choose a totem that could be easily identified as such. If your rival ever got access to the contents of your pockets, it’d be cinchy to spot the totem — wallet, gun, carkeys, and a heavy, intricately wrought coin from the 12th century. I wonder which one is the totem? Why not use the keys or the gun as your totem?

  20. Silvestre Says:

    I don’t think it’s a dream. I think that the whole point of Nolan not showing us if the top stops spinning is to tell us that Cobb doesn’t need it anymore to tell dreams from reality. It shows us how the main character evolves through the film. He always needed it to be sure he’s not in a dream, but after confronting his wife he knows what’s real and what isn’t.
    @ Chadd. One could argue that Cobb’s top spins a very particular way that only he knows, maybe how long it spins for, the way it topples and so on. And they only seen to reveal knowledge about their totems to people they trust and not random people. I mean not even some members of the team are told about the totems. For all we know Mol is the one who came up with the idea, so i guess the only ones who do have totems are Cobb, Ariadne and Arthur.
    @ Alec, yeah thats what i kind of thought.

  21. Dan Says:

    Can’t be arsed to read all the comments on this page, but the argument with the top spinning and tilting for Ellen Page and then later maybe not can only be explained as Ralph did it, that he is in fact still dreaming. Either way, it’s not important to the experience of the film itself. Arguing that there are no drugs that’ll numb the body but not the inner ear in a science fiction movie is also pointless. It’s a science fiction movie, you already stated you don’t like the genre. Why did you go watch in the first place? And why write a review when you’re obviously biased towards not liking it simply based on genre?

  22. Dan Says:

    Oh and as to why Ellen Page didn’t design a world with an easy kick? She only designed the first two levels of the dream. Once inside the hotel things have gone wrong and Cobb comes up with Mr. Charles gambit and then on the fly decides to go further into fischers mind. In the the hotel room right before they set up the dream equipment Ellen Page even says she’s confused and don’t know which of the two (Fischer or his dads friend) Cobb wants to enter.

  23. man Says:

    should’t they be all in zero-gravity??? after the van falling down all the stages should be in zero gravity…

  24. LT Says:

    All the agonising over whether the top falls over or not after the movie ends is missing the point. It was deliberately crafted so there is not right, correct, or knowable answer- this is, after all, fiction.

    It is no coincidence the movie cut to an ending at precisely the point it did – it was timed to perfection to cause maximum confusion and uncertainty. The little wobble was necessary otherwise the implication would be that it was not going to topple over.

    As to whether the whole movie was a dream etc, I think that is overthinking it. You could say that about any movie. I think the movie is what it is for the whole movie – the moments of reality are moments of reality, etc, and seeming inconsistencies that don’t bear scrutiny are probably just that – inconsistencies. Trying to justify them requires all sorts of contorted logic that requires all sorts of assumptions which are not verifiable from the actual content of the movie.

    What they just decided to do was throw in the spinning-top at the end just for fun as a clever ending to make audiences think. The whole movie, after all, was about confusing reality with dreams, so why not end the movie by introducing a little bit of confusion?

    It’s masterful, but I suspect we are all vastly overthinking the underlying logic.


  25. LT Says:

    PS but on the topic of plot inconsistencies, one idea the movie propounds is that the longer you spend in a dream, the harder you find it to tell the difference between a dream an reality.

    I would have thought that the opposite would be true. The more time you spend in this conscious dream state, surely the better you would get at spotting anomolies and inconsistencies with reality.

    The totem is but one example. Dreamers would spot literally hundreds of other small tip-offs like this if they spent a lot of time in dreams/limbo (not being able to remember how you got there was another one in the movie; your kids not aging; distortions of physical reality, etc).

    Just like Cobb says in limbo towards the end, that his projection of his wife was “just a shade” of who she really is. There are limits on the creative power of our brians – we can’t create something we don’t know about.

    Could you ever visit a city you’d never been to, or learn a new language you didn’t know, or a new skill you couldn’t do? Would all the people you meet be too similar? etc etc


  26. Sam Says:

    The main thing I didn’t like was the film’s breaking of it’s own rules. A clear example towards the end of the film is the first “kick” set off by the van hitting the railing of the bridge which starts an avalanche. They mention missing this kick and it is stated that they need to wake up on each level to escape. The characters in level 3 don’t wake up to the van level as they need to be woken up to the hotel level by the explosive charges that were not blown. I cannot see why the character on the hotel level does not wake up to the van level with this kick, for him what’s the difference between the van hitting the railing and the van hitting the water.

    If you want to say the whole things a dream and there are no rules thats fine but it seems pointless and lazy writing to me.

    Also the “totem” spinning at the end I think is just poor directing, Nolan feels the need to shove the question mark in our faces, it’s insulting. It would have been better to let Cobb walk off and leave it there, I would still have been able to formulate the idea myself.

  27. Algrokoz Says:

    The top has bothered me as well, but for a slightly different reason. The whole idea of a totem is that it is something that is easily identifiable to you but not to anyone else. For example, Saito has banged that chic on his carpet so many times he knows exactly what it is made of, but Leo and crew didn’t. So it acted as an unintentional totem. Ellen Page’s totem was a hollowed out chess piece that would tip over too easily. Levitt’s was a dice that was loaded a specific way. These are bath items that you could not approximate with any degree of reliability unless you knew the secret. However, Leo’s is the exact opposite. The effect it has can only occur in a dream. But if you were in someone else’s dream wouldn’t they naturally assume that your top will eventually fall over? That is counterproductive. Also if someone knew the general idea of Leo’s totem it would be super easy to reproduce unlike the others’. But I certainly agree that the inconsistencies with the top are obviously key to unraveling the film’s intended interpretation.

  28. Pete Says:

    “How does one person get into another person’s dreams? With a piece of wire. Of course, how ingenious! The Slumberland A-Team don’t wake up when their people carrier is careering through densely packed city streets and being riddled with bullets. But drop one of them backwards into a bath and – BAM! – they’re back in the land of the living. It just makes sense!”

    You are an idiot. In fantasy/scifi movies they make an initial postulate that you either accept or you don’t watch the movie. You don’t sit around and bitch about it. In Superman it is that a man can fly because he is not from around here. Here they have technology that allows you to enter someones dreams, and can sedate so specifically that your balance aren’t affected. If you don’t accept that postulate you leave the movie.

    “The audience is left wondering whether his wife was right all along, whether this ‘reality’ is not in fact just another dream. ”

    Not really.

    “My problem with this ending is that the ‘reality’ DiCaprio is returning to is surely the same one he left when they hatched the inception plan.”

    Its the dream his mind has created to allow him to live happily ever after. He’s still sleeping on the plane.

    The movie is fairly straight forward all the way through, and that is the reason its not that special. (The only reason people talk about it being intelligent is because most americans aren’t very intelligent to begin with)

    He never entered Saitos limbo – he stayed in his own.

  29. pete Says:

    I see the whole film as a more ‘action-packed’ and ‘easier to follow’ memento. at the end of memento he chooses his reality. same applies here. it kills me seeing so many people asking whether or not the totem fell. the whole bloody point is that he didn’t care whether it fell or not, hence choosing the reality which made him happy.

  30. Noe Says:

    My biggest and most obvious plot hole is the fact that they could only go three levels into the dream with the sedative because ellen page’s character designs the levels and inputs the sedative device into the level, so how is that her and cobb go another level deep with yet another sedative device that puts them to sleep, i dont get that.

    Also, i believe cobb and saito kill them selves at the end to get out of limbo becaus ethey arent as highly sedated as before so therefore they can eake up since they have been there so long, just like cobb and mal did when they killed themselves in front of the train.

    One more thing, can someone explain to me how cobb plante dthe idea into mal’s mid while in limbo with no machine?? Plz and thx

  31. David Says:

    You guys are hilarious! I couldn’t bring myself to read all the comments but the overanalysis is so ludicrously small-minded and idiotic. I think the tone is set with Eoin’s “I find the entire sci-fi/fantasy genre cringe-some in the extreme”. Why did you see it? Why are you writing about it? Do something else. I just enjoyed the ride.

  32. Eoin Says:

    I saw the film because I’m a journalist and it’s my job. Mentioned in the very first line.

  33. aye Says:

    Why r u on here then David? Don’t tell me u stumbled on here randomly. nope. u wanted to see what other ppl had to say.

    I’m just gonna list the biggest problems I had with this movie:

    If Mal jumped off a building across from Cobb, then it is clearly suicide. Any detective could have known that, unless it was an American detective. kidding.

    Who were those ppl in South Africa chasing after Cobb? Oh yeah. Cobol Engineering! From the prequel:
    Why wasn’t this mentioned in the movie? and how were critics to dumb to realize that this info is missing?

    If Ariadne can shift environments in the dream, why doesn’t she do this to kill projections? If Cobb’s guilt sends a train through the streets, does this mean only he is capable of guilt? Why aren’t other people showing signs of their guilt… nevermind they have no guilt. Only Dicaprio is capable of guilt.

    Where did the projection of Fischer’s father come from (the one in the safe)? Projections can’t be controlled… otherwise Ariadne would have placed the combat projections conveniently behind bars when she planned the dreams.

    The machine that injects the dreamers with sedatives is explained quite well on the internet.
    It’s ability to dream-share is STILL not explained… Come on, everyone’s been fussing about this. If Nolan’s crew made a site explaining the machine’s sedative delivering capabilities, they can at least show us how the machine lets ppl share dreams.

    Is Saito just a wuss or what? He wants Fischer to dismantle his fathers conglomerate, and wants to do so through inception…. He wants to do it by going in his dreams?? How lame. Can’t he just hire a hitman, or sabotage the operations of the other conglomerate?

    Did Cobb really have to do inception on his wife? Couldn’t he have just jumped off a building and died? That way, his wife will prolly be sad and jump off as well, waking up in the real world, because if u die in Limbo u wake up. And if she won’t, he can turn off the dream machine and the dream will end.

    The action is subpar in this movie. With the exception of the back tires of a car flying off, a rotating hallway and a zero gravity fight scene (which is 30 seconds long 🙁 ), there was nothing special about the action. The ballistics were exaggerated, just like it is in every other blockbuster film. A grenade does not make a huge gasoline type explosion, as far as my knowledge goes. Same thing goes with the Molotov cocktails thrown in the beginning that make a 7 foot tall explosion. I don’t mind bad ballistics, but I thought Nolan stood for realism, not the action movie antics on par with Transformers 2. If he wanted to be unrealistic, at least make it cool… you know, like in the Matrix.

    I gotta say, this was a confusing film, but I got most of it on the first time I watched it. This doesn’t mean I’m smart, I had read a chapter in psychology a few months before and applied the things I read to the psychology presented in the film (what goes on while we dream etc.). Yet, it didn’t wow me, not like Fight Club did…. Or even Dark City. Inception should learn from movies like those two as well as The Thirteenth Floor, Eternal Sunshine, and Paprika.

    Just for the record, this is probably the worst dream movie I have seen so far. The best dream movie for me, was Eternal Sunshine, because it had great visuals as well as a storyline that played much like Crash. Paprika was also a great film, and it would just play with ur mind over and over again. It answers the “Is this a dream or not?” question in a straightforward manner, but we the audience are surprised by when the movie is dream and when it isn’t. At one point, a character thinks she is dreaming, and tries to jump out of a building in real life.

    11. THE ACTORS
    Good acting? Are u serious? I don’t think I sympathized with any of the characters, and that is partly due to Leo’s overacting and Cotillard’s lack of dialogue. Well, it also is Nolan’s fault for not showing enough of Mal’s past.

    Can I see her in one movie where she isn’t someone’s trophy wife? Where she can act happy go lucky like she did in Love Me If You Dare?

    There actually a lot more to this list, but I’m tired of writing. I really needed to get this off my chest, cuz I waited a whole year to see inception, and was greatly disappointed. I noticed a few of these the first time around, that just shows how bad I thought this movie was. It’s only saving grace was that it was about dreams and dream are cool, and that it had action in it. And even the action wasn’t that great.

  34. Mark Says:

    Just saw the movie (a bit late, I know). The reason the scene cuts before the top falls is not to leave us with doubt but because Cobb by the end of film no longer needs to see the results of the test. Down in limbo he passed the test of knowing what’s real based on his deepest feelings, without the top. He spins the top now out of habit but doesn’t care to see the result because he just knows that these are really his kids. That’s the message of cutting before it falls.

  35. Kelly Says:

    My biggest problems is, if the sensation of falling is what wakes you up from the dream because the sedative doesn’t effect the inner ear, why would you do the Inception on a plane? One bout of turbulence and it’s all over. WTF Nolan. There is so much that isn’t explained in this movie I had a really hard time giving into the film’s world and constructs. In my opinion, this MOVIE needs a better architect, boo ya!

    I mean what does Cobb’s father do anyway? What is he a professor of, mazes, psychology, what? Why can’t his kids just move abroad with him? If the ultimate goal of the film is the inception of Cillian Murphy, why is Marion Cotillard in the film, what is the point of the substory? What purpose does it serve, it’s like she just shows up conveniently to help explain a turn in the plot. I like the concept a lot, it had some good moments, but in my opinion it was a complete mess. These were major plot holes, not points of interpretation. I keep thinking about how great this film could have been in the hands of someone like Kubrick, Antonioni or Tarkovsky.

  36. Jake Says:

    Wow I am impressed by the level of discussion that has gone into this film. Bravo for pointing out all the short-comings in this movie that was obviously based on a true story. Or was it a documentary? Wait, now I remember. It’s a work of fantasy about the dream world. The level of depth given by the writer/director is enough to give the audience the amount of information required to suspend reality to the perfect level for a fantasy story. Anyone poking holes in the plot of a movie about dreams is quite possibly totally insane. Like the argument about the movie, Wanted. “a man that can shoot bullets around corners. Ha! Not physically possible”. Well it is a comic book adaptation, so I think we’re on safe ground. Is anyone going to comlplain that middle earth couldn’t possibly exist, or is it just movies that have some basis in reality? Honestly I think that anyone unable to suspend reality should stay away from this genre and leave it to us – people with imaginations. I’m sure Jules Verne would have been over the moon to hear all of you naysayers telling him “nah that story’s just too unbelievable”.

  37. Tracy Says:

    The key is Cobb’s wedding ring. In dreams he’s wearing it, in reality he’s not. The final scene with the top doesn’t give a good look at his hand, but when he’s going through customs he’s not wearing it.

    Also in limbo with Saito, just before they wake up on the plane it shows Saito’s hand moving toward the gun they took off Cobb when they hauled him in from the beach. It stands to reason that he shot Cobb & himself to get out of limbo.

    Head scratching questions aside, I really liked the film.

  38. James Says:

    So there are only two ways the plot holes in this film can be explained:

    1. massive accidental plot holes, so a bad movie

    2. Massive intentional plot holes because it was actually all a dream this is the most cliched cop out approach to story telling and this is therefore a bad movie.

    Conclusion over rated poorly thought out bad film… That said it has raised a lot of interesting discussion so thats good.

  39. dirk Says:

    People who think Mal commits suicide by jumping out of a different building are many and stupid.
    Suites often have such layouts. For an example in Paris, look at the apartment in “Taken” from which Liam Neeson’s daughter is abducted. She sees her friend attacked through the window, but they’re both in the same apartment!

  40. Owen Says:

    What happens if you die in limbo before the sedative wears off?

  41. Aoibh Says:

    The spinning top works-
    Whatever you want to happen in dreams will work. So, when in dreams, he wishes for his top to stay spinning. If it falls, anything he wishes won’t come true and he’s in reality

  42. Emma Says:

    Trevor. Well said. I thought I was the only person who realised what a waste of space Murphy was. You have restored my faith in humanity.

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  44. Jacob Says:

    Every time somebody dies in a dream during Inception, their body disappears and gets at least 1 dream level closer to reality. If Mal was right, why didn’t her dead body disappear after she killed herself? Why doesn’t Mal ever reappear in the same reality Cobb is in when Cobb firmly believes he is not dreaming? Better yet, why didn’t Mal do a murder suicide if she was so convinced they were dreaming? Almost no doubt in my mind: Cobb was right.

    In my opinion, if there is another level of reality Mal went to, it’s the spiritual realm and Judgment Day plus Heaven and Hell.

  45. Daniel Says:

    Just rewatched Inception again after a decade. It’s only gotten better after all these years. I saw things and noticed little details I never had before, and emotionally the film struck a chord with me that it never quite had before. The practical effects obviously have stood the test of time while many other films’ CGI effects haven’t. And the layered storytelling remains magnificent in it’s slight of hand and ambiguity.

    On the other hand, your review, which I stumbled across while looking up various theories about the film, is a good reminder of just how pedantic, dull, and excruciatingly unimaginative some people can be when it comes to talking about movies.

    You could have just left it at “I don’t like science fiction.” Which is a perfectly respectable subjective stance to take. But instead you tried to prove to the world with all those wasted words how objectively bad the genre and Nolan’s movies are. But all you proved, with relatively meaningless nitpick after nitpick, is how uninteresting your opinion is, how tedious your approach to discussing film and narrative is, and how much it aggravates you that you can’t enjoy what millions of other people do.

    It’s just funny because there are SO MANY worse movies out there, but you chose this one to try to pick apart. I guess seeing Nolan continue to be one of the most successful, respected, and powerful filmmakers in the world must really piss you off.

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