… Special Defects …

Never mind the hoopla, this is a really bad movie.

In case you have somehow escaped knowing this, Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is hired by a Japanese businessman to help break up a rival business conglomerate by going beyond even his extraordinary capacity to share the dreams of others.  His new task:  to instill a new idea, the break-up of a business, into the dream of the heir to the other guy’s conglomerate.  “Inception” refers to instilling a new idea into somebody else’s head through a dream.

To enroll the dream-endowed DiCaprio to his cause, the Japanese businessman (Watanabe) uses as leverage that DiCaprio is believed to have murdered his wife back in California and so can’t get out of this shady business and back to his kids.  I’m using their names as actors because you never forget for one moment whom you’re watching — the characters have no lives independent of these famous faces.  The deal is that DiCaprio will do what Watanabe wants and once he’s successful, Watanabe will do something (pull strings?) to get DiCaprio off the hook and back into a normal happy life.

From here follow many adventures in many cities, from Kyoto to Mombasa, all involving a great deal of violence, and cars colliding, exploding, rolling down embankments and off bridges.  It turns out there are several levels of dream worlds and so multiple surreal but related chases and disasters that take place at the same time but in different locales and time frames.  What takes a minute here might take 10 minutes somewhere else and 50 years somewhere else, all on different dream levels.  This means that while things are careening toward disaster here, within the logic of one dream world or another there’s time to avoid disaster because elsewhere a different but linked downward spin is taking more time, giving the here a breather.

This sounds more interesting than it is because, what’s particularly annoying about Inception is that the rules of this SciFi world are not clear, and the sense is they’re not consistent.  Maybe if you pinned Christopher Nolan to the wall he could persuade you that, within his artistic framework, things are consistent but nobody sitting anywhere near me could make it out — I was not alone.   If you sacrifice consistency you can do anything and thus things float, time passes at different rates, things happen arbitrarily for some special effect of another and you can have all the disasters and violence you want by the snap of your fingers.

The downside of a game without consistent rules is it’s boring.  I was glad when Inception was over and DiCaprio was (no surprise here) freed from his wife and his guilt and back with the kids (of course we don’t get a clue as to how Watanabe pulls that off).  A number of teenagers just upped and left though the adults tended to stick it out — if they were looking for a point to it all they didn’t find it.