The plot of Inception is deceptively simple: a tale of corporate espionage sidetracked by a man's obsession with his dead wife and complicated by groovy special effects and dream technology. As far as summer blockbusters and action/heist/corporate espionage movies go, it's not bad. Once you get beyond the genuinely beautiful camera work and dizzying special effects, however, you're not left with much.
One thing that really bothers me about the film--aside from its dull, lifeless, stereotypical, and utterly useless female characters (which I'll get to in a moment)--is that nothing is at stake. Dom Cobb (Leo DiCaprio) and his team take on a big new job: one seemingly powerful businessman, Saito (Ken Watanabe), wants an idea planted into the mind of another powerful businessman, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). Specifically, Saito wants Fischer to believe that dear old dad's dying wish was for him to break up the family business, so that, we assume, Saito wins the game of capitalism. Should the team go through with the profitable job? We aren't supposed to care about the answer to this question or what is at stake in the plot.
It's assumed that, of course we want Cobb to win because he's really Leo, and, you see, Leo is talented but Troubled. What troubles him? You guessed it: a woman. A woman whose very name--Mal (played by Marion Cotillard, an immensely talented actress who's wasted in this role)--literally means "bad." Who or what will rescue Cobb/Leo from his troubles? You guessed it again: a woman. This time, it's a woman whose very name--Ariadne (played by Ellen Page in a way that demands absolutely no commentary)--means "utterly pure," and who is younger, asexual (a counter to Mal's dangerous French sexuality) and without any backstory or past of her own to smudge the movie's--and her own--focus on Cobb/Leo. So, it's not a stretch here to say that Cobb needs a pure woman to escape the bad one. Virgin/whore stereotype, anyone?
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