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Inception — Our 100th Episode, As Selected By You!

Maximilian Rivera February 20, 2018
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This week we are talking about Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), and that’s because of listeners like you who took to the internet to vote on our first poll! We had four good choices — Mulan, Heat, and Steve Jobs — but our listeners were dying for us to share a dream with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Inception is a great film. It’s an original science fiction action thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat. The story also appeals to your own experiences, because we’ve all experienced the little details they name and describe about dreaming. It’s a brilliant plot tactic that makes us identify with the characters in this outlandish story.

Also, this is our 100th Episode! Thanks for sticking with us throughout the last 100 weeks, especially because we began with Mac and Me and Master of Disguise. We’re excited to be geeking out on movies with you guys, so we’re happy to announce we have a new email address — podcast@thecriticalbreakdown.com. Send us your thoughts!

Inception Still Feels Fresh

What makes Inception such a great experience is that the writing, performances, effects, sound, and music all work together with unity to craft the story. Inception isn’t the kind of movie that relies on one angle to create the story. While I like Batman Begins, the hook for the entire film still rests on Batman. For Inception, you have to learn this world and why you care about the story.

The big success here is that it doesn’t take long for you to start caring. As the main characters exit from the initial dream into the riotous love-nest dream, we start sympathizing with the characters because they are smart, cool, and ahead of the game. Of course, as the scenario goes wrong, we now have something to sympathize with. Even perfect plans can go south.

It’s About Characters, Really

That’s something Inception does throughout the entire story — we are set up wtih big plots in big set pieces and experts guiding us, yet Cobb messes up almost all of the twists with his own guilt-ridden pschye. It would be one thing if he saw his dead wife, but having her show up as an antagonist creates tension. If Cobb is in a dream, he needs to worry about her somewhat. If they’re in Cobb’s dreams, then you better be alert.

DiCaprio plays Cobb well, showing that he’s not just good at his job, but its also all he currently has. While he pines for his children and misses his wife, you get the feeling that he enjoys being a master of dreams. Yet when the chips fall, he wants to give it all up. Especially as we discover all that it has cost him. But when they end up in a situation that will either cost all of them their sanity or force a solution, Cobb excels at the task at hand. He’s become one with the morose lifestyle of a man full of guilt and regret. He has less hesitancy to force his friends into a shit situation, because life is shit, isn’t it?

Same Old Christopher Nolan

I know we’re just beating a dead horse with Nolan’s (poor) use of female characters, but its at least a better use of the talent here having one be the audience insert and the other the primary antagonist. Yet that’s it — while we have three or four really slick, bad ass males and a bunch of other well-realized supporting roles, Nolan’s ladies are just kind of there at moments.

Of course, the rest of the film shines. I knew every major plot point but found myself once again at the edge of my seat. I was waiting for the famous BWONG music the whole time, too. I was VERY satisfied when it finally hit. The plot unfolds just as great as it does on first viewing.

If there’s one funny take away from this viewing, it’s that Scott and I talked about how silly it is that the film confused viewers before we watched it. And then we got confused as to which dreams we were in halfway through the film (to Scott’s credit, he cleared it up for us).

So while we didn’t pick this movie, I’m happy to revisit it. It is a fantastic exercise in tension and storytelling, layering multiple timelines in a frame that plays with audience expectations. I mean, the fact that an entire half of the film has one character slow motion driving his van off a bridge into a river — and that it works really well — says tons.

Maybe I’ll revisit Mulan and Heat soon, or finally watch Steve Jobs. But Inception is a great film — and a great selection for our 100th episode. Keep checking our website and twitter for future polls!

Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.