Inception poster

Arthur: It would have to be a 747.
Cobb: Why is that?
Arthur: Because in a 747, the pilot’s up top, and the first class cabin’s in the nose, so no one would walk through. But you’d have to buy out the entire cabin. And the first class flight attendant…
Saito: I bought the airline.
[Everybody turns and stares at him. Saito just shrugs]
Saito: It seemed neater.


Inception was one of the most-talked-about films of 2010 and through an unfortunate set of circumstances I had missed its theatrical run entirely. Having successfully ignored all the chatter, diagrams, stories about the film’s score and other potential spoilers, I finally saw it the other day and much to my dismay walked away with a sense of deja-vu.

Inception begins with the premise of a fantastically complex heist: the troubled, damaged protagonist who everyone agrees is best-in-class in his field (in this case, dream espionage sounds like an appropriate enough label) embarks on a seemingly impossible mission for which he assembles a crack team of associates: some old pros, and some fresh new faces. What follows is an interesting, engaging ride with a few caveats:

– Di Caprio’s Cobb reminds me too much of his Shutter Island character and I can never quite break away from that comparison. I found his love story demons unconvincing and Mal’s character outright off-putting.

–   Ariadne is an interesting name choice. I spent way too much time during the film thinking up appropriate analogical names for the other characters. Interestingly, for Dom and Mal perhaps too obviously I stuck with Orpheus and Eurydice.

– Knowing this was  a Nolan film, I was expecting the unexpected.

And there-in lies the rub – having seen all of Nolan’s earlier films, Inception felt more like a minor incremental improvement than a truly original idea. I am convinced that I would have been more engaged and impressed had I never seen his earlier fare. I felt similarly about Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel — following Amores Perros and 21 Grams, it felt unoriginal, even though (like with Inception) it was perfectly executed.