Ok I realize I’m late to the party here, but I just saw ‘Inception’ and while I really enjoyed it, there were a few things that did not make any sense. For me it’s important for speculative fiction to be internally consistent. Let me know in the comments if you agree/disagree or if you have more plot holes to add.
SPOILER ALERT. Obviously this post is full of spoilers, so don’t read it if you have not yet seen the movie.
- When Cobb’s crew first get to the level 1 dream we are told that if they die in the dream their brain will turn to mush since the chemist used some new ‘stronger’ prescription. Presumably this is to make the action sequences become meaningful. But – later on at the bottom level Saito is convinced to shoot himself in order to wake up. Why does his brain not turn to mush? Same applies to Ariadne killing herself by swan-diving off the building.
- When they first find out that Fischer’s mind has been weaponized and that dying in the dream will turn them to vegetables, why don’t they abort the mission and all fall over backwards to ‘kick’ themselves back to reality?
- Why does the chemist create the stronger, potentially mind-mushing chemical in the first place? Why does Cobb agree to use it?
- At one point Eames says ‘you have to dream bigger’ and pulls out a rocket launcher. If you can dream up new weapons, why don’t they whip out loony-tunes style machine guns a-la ‘The Mask’? For that matter, none of the action scenes make sense since it’s all a dream right? There are no laws of physics determining if the bullet hits you or not.
- If Saito has enough spare cash to buy an airline, why is he so threatened by Fischer’s corporation? Surely he could come up with a less risky plan than trying to incept the idea of ‘breaking up the company’. How does he know that part of the broken up company would not go on to beat him anyway? Also, why does Saito choose to go into the dream in the first place? You don’t get to be a billionaire by taking unnecessary risks.
- They never explain the technology behind the dream sharing device. Dreams within dreams – fine I buy it. But a suitcase with wires that telepathically links people’s minds? If such a thing existed, society would be radically different. And billionaires would presumably be aware of the threat of mind-melding and have some kind of defense system (a bodyguard or crash helmet perhaps?)
I think you should see the movie again, a lot of this is explained.
1. Ariadne didn’t kill herself, she kicked herself back into the other level of dreaming by falling off the building.
2. Because they have a mission to follow and backing out with their only chance would be pointless and considered a failure.. and it would not make for a good movie.
3. The sedative must be powerful and create a deep enough state of sleep that they can successfully plant the idea in Fishers mind in the third level of dreaming.
4. Dreams feel real when you’re in them so to have bullets with no physics and guns that don’t exist would lead to projections hunting down the dreamer as it would be quite obvious that someone was screwing around with the dream. The idea is to make the subject feel as if the dream world is real.. Loony tune weapons would not give that effect.
5. Just because he can afford to buy an airline does not mean he is the richest man in the world.. his end goal is for his company to become the authoritative leader in energy supply and the only thing standing in his way is Fisher’s company. He enters the dream to make sure the idea was planted successfully.
6. The technology was developed by the army so it is assumed that it is not yet ready for public use and is it really imperative that you know how the machines work? I don’t think so.
Good explanations it seems as if the person who wrote this didn’t understand the movie and simply mistook it for a simple action movie
All the other things I could understand and wrap my head around. The number six is my biggest issue with the movie. The wires are not wires they are IV tubes to administer the drug needed for the dreams. What connects the dreamer with the attackers? Is it like WiFi mind melding? Does the IV tack into your nervous system and thus links all the nervous systems together like one huge network? Does an attacker need a device implanted in their head to link up to a victim/target? ANYTHING would have been nice. A quick 2 min explanation and an injection into Ellen Page’s character and I am 100% on board for this movie. As it is now I every time I see them link up dreams I end up yelling “WHAT IS CAUSING THE LINK!”
interesting questions about a great movie!
1) i think one could argue, that both Ariadne and Saito already were in the ‘limbo’ – this is what happens when they die in one of the higher levels.
2) maybe the medication was too strong to wake up – even with a “kick”. I think they wouldn’t have aborted the mission because it was critical to get it done and so much went into setting up the plan (buying the whole airline etc.)
3) so that they had more time and to create a more stable dream
4) yes, agree: the dream sequences are very much like reality and not dream-like
5) yes, true!
just my two cents!
1. Saito is in limbo, you must die to escape limbo, the problem is that you don’t normally know you are in limbo. Perhaps the same rules in limbo don’t apply since the dream space is different. I think Ariadne’s jump was either a self kick through falling to move up to the previous level or the death from the fall wouldn’t turn the brain to mush since the death was timed by the music to coincide with the kicks and drug wearing off from the levels above.
3. In order to have more dreams within dreams as is required for an inception.
4. I don’t know why Eames doesn’t create bigger weapons, but I think the bullets are dictated by the dreamer’s sub conscious which is based off of reality, which may be an explanation for the limits in weaponry.
5 and 6 I don’t think are important, there are many possibilities.
The biggest plot hole that I noticed and that I haven’t seen anyone else mention is the fact that the whole scheme comes crashing down if there is a “kick,” but that none of the “professionals” on the team seem to be concerned that the top level of the inception is being performed on a friggin’ Transpacific airplane flight. Better hope that there’s not a turbulent jolt for that whole 12K miles!
Except, if you were paying attention, that jolt would do nothing to them given the sedative, unless you’re talking about them being literally thrown from their seats, in which case they have far bigger problems.
they didnt need a kick on the plane because they would wake up when the dream machine’s timer went off
I really think I got this one. Even if there were turbulence on the plane, the sedative would not allow them to wake. Hence, when Cobb drops the bag onto Fischer’s lap. That was to make sure he was knocked out from the initial sedative that Cobb slipped into his drink. Once the powerful sedative was used, no amount of turbulence would wake them. They all had to wait at the first (van) level for that “week” until the sedative wore off. That said, I still have a hard time believing they were able to hide for the entire week in the first level after escaping the van.
I’ve only seen the movie once, I think I need to watch it again because the whole limbo thing wasn’t crystal clear to me. They do say that dying in the dream with the heavy sedative will give you brain damage, but then a number of the characters do die and seem to be okay when they wake up.
Re number 2, I think that the kick has to be applied to them one level above. So the flight attendant who hooked them up to the machine would have had to apply the ‘kick’, and they didn’t have a way to communicate with her.
But about the kick.. the scene where the van flips and gravity gets all messed up in the dream, wouldn’t the van flipping be a kick and wake them up? Or do they have to want to be woken up for a kick to work?
Most of your facts aren’t plot holes but our lack of paying attention to the movie.
1. In the middle of the movie, you learned that if you have the feeling that your falling, you wake up.
2. They were about to abort the mission until they came up with a second possibility to complete the mission successfully.
3. The Sedative they took had to be stable enough to last 3 levels to layers. If the sedative was weak, than they would of waked up instantly if they were
4. Dreams are as life-like as possible. Eames has mastered the art of imaging things which is why he could morph into other people. And he didn’t imagine a rocket launcher, he imagined a m32 grenade launcher.
5. Saito was trying to become the authoritative leader in energy supply. The only thing in his way was Ficher’s company. He had to destroy the company unsuspiciously and planting a seed in Ficher’s mind is untraceable.
6. The Dream Machine is military classified. And if wouldn’t be interesting if they explained every detail of it would it?
They were never about to abort the mission. They said they can’t due to the sedative. They said their only option is to finish the mission as quickly as possible. Abortion of the mission was never an option for them, lest they end up in limbo after failing to avoid Fischer’s militarized projections for an entire week.
there is a plot hole with the sedative, but i think you are looking at it the wrong way.
So they need the sedative to stay asleep in “real time” for a long time and they need it to be a deep sleep as the further down levels the dreams become unstable and any thing that happens in “real time” could bring the whole lower level down if perceived by the body.
now we are told the sedative still lets you feel tipping, falling ect… and the sedative is only applied in “real time” that we know of. So one level down, if they die they can not kick back to “teal time” get sent to limbo. However this all should only be true for level 1 happenings.
Since they do not receive the sedative in dream level 1, 2, or 3, dying in level 2, 3, 4, or 5 should simply just kick you back to the previous level as you are not heavily sedated in those levels except for in Saito’s case as he dies in DL 1 and effects the deeper dream levels putting him into a suspended animation state in the lower levels forcing him into limbo.
some evidence for this is at beginning Arthur gets killed in the dream with in a dream and simply kicks back to dream level 1. not the whole way back to “real time” sure he was not sedated but he only went back 1 level is the point.
So FIscher gets shot, he should simply kick back to Dream level 2, no issues as i said before he was not sedated in DL 2, just normal stuff that we are aware of.
Back to Dream level 1 Issue, two things, first again they are not heavily sedated in this level to get down to Dream level 2, that we are aware of. and even if they were, We were told that even with sedation tipping can wake you, Yet no one wakes up through the Van crash??? not to mention the way gravity behaves in DL 2 is completely inaccurate as it is a consistent force of gravity they show in DL2 just in different directions as apposed to the very large changes in force that would have been applied to the bodies in the van crash, which should have caused them to experience the forces of a car crash in DL2 (In DL2 of Salto’s dream a simple smack sends Cobb across the room??) yet a van crash just turns the room around??
those are two of my biggest issues as of now, but there are lots more.
1. They would go to limbo if they died, their brains would turn to mush after they had been in limbo for ages (>50 yrs if we go by how long Cobb was in there). Saito was already in limbo, he shot himself to get out. Ariadne didn’t die; she fell to ‘kick’ herself back up to the snow level.
2. Basically it was pretty much their only/best chance to carry out the inception.
3. They need something very strong to maintain the many dream levels. If it was a weak sedative the dream would collapse easily. The risk was probably worth it (to Cobb at least).
4. They’re trying to keep it realistic so Fischer doesn’t sense that something’s wrong.
5. They don’t fully explain, but the company is probably very powerful and this is the only way Saito can get rid of it.
6. The technique was developed by the military, they’re very good at hiding things.
Everybody dodged the ‘why doesn’t Fischer have bodyguards in reality’ question. That bugged me more than anything else in the movie.
Their are more plot holes than this like
The totem doesnt actually tell you if you are in reality. It really only tells you if you are in someone elses dream. If you are in your own dream then you should know your totem and therefore it would be impossible to be able to tell if you are dreaming.
If saito was an old man at the end of the film because of the little bit more time he spent in limbo than Cob did then why is Fisher the same age and why does the kick come so quickly
Why was limbo such a big deal if you can just kill yourself to get out. If Cobb and His wife got run over a train to wake up then anyone in limbo could just shoot themselves before their minds become mush. I understand this could be due to the sedation but if thats true then the end of the movie really isnt the end. Cobb and Saito would have to stay their for hundreds of years longer.
When we look in the hotel room we see all the people in the dream floating because of the car in the previous dream. Why doesnt this effect the 3rd dream
The weaponized projections is supposed to get stronger as the you get into the lower dreams. The projections in the second dream suck.
If limbo is supposed to be a shared space why does only Cobs show up.
Why doesn’t cobb and Saito’s brain turn to mush? They wake up completely normal.
To save saito they should have just told him to do wait for the kick to get out.
Not a plot hole but a stupid part in the movie. Cob should ask his wife to convince her that they are not in a dream “Why can’t you change the world around you?” rather than asking “why can’t I”
Mitch, to answer your question:
“Why was limbo such a big deal if you can just kill yourself to get out. If Cobb and His wife got run over a train to wake up then anyone in limbo could just shoot themselves before their minds become mush. I understand this could be due to the sedation but if that’s true then the end of the movie really isn’t the end. Cobb and Saito would have to stay there for hundreds of years longer. ”
Not necessarily. Saito got super old because he died way before everyone else went down to limbo. The reason Saito couldn’t kill himself from limbo right away is because he was still fully sedated in the plane. If you think back, it didn’t matter that Cobb had not waken up and drowned in the van because all the team needed was for at least one person to wake to remove the sedation so everyone could wake up (or wait for time to run out which is out of the question given how long that would be). So with this in mind, remember when Saito and Cobb finally wake up everyone else was already awake and waiting in the plane, Meaning they had taken the sedative off and now that the allotted time for the mission was over killing yourself in limbo will bring you back. Also, if you think back Cobb was pretty messed up at the end when he found Saito. His features looked rugged or wasted or even tired (in other words aged). He had been there for a while looking for Saito.
The only reason why Limbo was such a fear was because the higher the level you died in the longer you would have to wait in limbo before you could wait up. This is proven when you see the drastic age difference between Saito and Cobb at the end. Also the “mush” issue was just a theory since none of them knew how long limbo would last. We know now that since Saito died near middle of level 3 and he was roughly in his 40’s in real life, we can presume that dying half way through level 3 equals about 40-50 years in limbo (about how old Saito looked). This also leads me to believe that cobb probably spent about 5-10 years looking for Saito given he died so close the the end of the mission and 5-10 years would match his appearance at the end. Now that’s actually kind of scary because if dying half way thru level 3 equals 40 years then dying at level 1 would have meant limbo for well over 150 years and that my friends would equal brain mush.
“Not necessarily. Saito got super old because he died way before everyone else went down to limbo.”
is it me or did anyone else see saito alive in the level 3 snow fortress, THROWING A GRENADE INTO A SHAFT, while cobb and ariadne were at the dining room table with mal in limbo? correct me if i’m wrong or not understanding all the inception logic, but i take that to mean cobb and ariadne entered limbo BEFORE saito. saito was in fact the LAST one to get there, and yet i’ve seen a number of comments on inception plot-hole sites about saito being the first to enter limbo. i see why it’s easy to mistake saito for having been there first, cos he was much older than cobb by the time cobb found him… but i think he only appeared older because he started thinking limbo was reality and he allowed himself to age… whereas cobb kept his grip on things.
when cobb agrees to stay in limbo, he says, “saito’s dead by now.” this was one of MY problems with the movie… there’s no way cobb could’ve actually known saito was dead before deciding to stay in limbo. he was relying on an assumption. but i suppose it’s forgivable because had he not relied on the assumption, he’d’ve been risking life in prison rather than half a century in limbo.
I’ve seen the movie three times, and I am puzzled when Cobb answers Yusuf’s question, “How many team members?” Cobb says “five.” Then Saito says “six”. But at that point, Ariadne was not part of the group to go into Fischer’s dream. She had to talk her way into it later. So that means, Cobb, Arthur, Eames, and Yusuf = FOUR, not five. Or I guess Cobb includes Ariadne as a “team member” to split hairs?
This is a pretty delayed response, and you might have already figured this out by now, but I think when he said 5, he was including Fischer. They had to put him under too, right? So – Cobb, Arthur, Eames, Yusuf, and Fischer are the original five, and then Saito makes six. And then the addition of Ariadne is seven. Hope this helps. 🙂
I could go through all of them but I will only answer the first one.
Ariadne kicked, she didn’t die
Saito was in limbo (i.e. His Brain turned to mush). If you remember the first scene in the Japanese Castler, that was him living out his dream reality, after all, he was in limbo
what was the purpose of showing the end of the movie at the beginning anyway?
by the way, i believe cobb does get his mind fried from being in limbo for so long. he can barely determine reality from a dream, has to “amp up” his mind with a dream machine to even dream, and is constantly paranoid about whether he is in a dream or not. he certainly isnt at the top of his human perceptions, maybe that is what gets fried… not general intelligence
the kick is the van falling, but the drugs are too strong for the first level, it is when the drug wears off enough, and the van actually hits the water, that they are thrown and thus “kicked”.
There are many times that they have a falling-type situation that they are not kicked, i.e. repelling down the cliff, running and jumping down stairs, etc. The van in free fall is apparently not enough to constitute a kick, but hitting the water, or when the elevator hits the floor/ceiling is enough.
The Limbo , as others have said, the person has to know they are in limbo in order to kill themselves to get out. The main issue Cobb has is he convinced her that Limbo was not real (thus his first inadvertant try at INCEPTION) so they would kill eachother to escape, but she carried that feeling (that everything wasnt real), into reality. Thus she killed herself in real life.
this is how he knew Inception was possible (planting an idea in someone elses mind that they will carry into real life)
None of these are plot holes, and most of them are explained in the movie.
1) Saito was in limbo at the end. Killing yourself while you’re
in limbo wakes you up. Ariadne didn’t kill herself, she was falling
so she would be kicked into the level above that one.
2) They said in the movie that they would have to wait there
for a week, and by then they would have been killed and ended
up in limbo.
3) So that they can go down more levels, and so the dream wouldn’t collapse.
4) They were trying to be realistic I guess, since the projections
might try to kill them if they notice something strange and realize
that they’re not supposed to be there.
5) Maybe Fischer’s corporation was making more money. Saito says
in the movie that he wants to go into the dream so he can make sure
they really did it.
6) That’s not a plot hole, it’s a fictional thing for the movie (how it works). They said the military used it. I didn’t seem like it was something that most people knew about.
I think the biggest plot hole was the premise of an ‘inception,’ which is an elaborate scheme involving dreams to plant some idea into someone’s brain (how could you be sure it works?) so that there may be a chance that they’ll give up their company or whatever. When there are more simply schemes that can be done (though it wouldn’t be the same movie) unless, the movie was all a dream, which I think is the case.
This is the answer to every “plot hole” I have seen on this page.
1. Adriadne didn’t get put on sedative in snoww dream going to limbo. They just went. Saito can kill himself in limbo because the sedative would have already worn off. We don’t even know if saito truly did escape limbo…
2. This was their only chance to do it. If they would have quit then, Saito would have lost total energy dominance, Fischer would have gotten the company and beat Saito, and Cobb would have gone to jail(since Saito wouldn’t have called him if they failed).
3.He creates the chemical to enable people to go down to deeper levels and to make sure they stay asleep. Cobb uses it since he didn’t know Fiscer would have a militarized mind, therefore no danger. They had to use it to get down to 3 levels while staying asleep.
4.If the subject or dreamer thinks its real physics, then the world is real physics(except for interaction from the world above). If the guns aren’t realistic, the subconscious would know something was created that’s not real that it didn’t create and would try to find them. The real guns=realisticness=Fiscer believeing its real=no discovery.
5.Rich doesn’t equal money forever. If you get on top, you want to stay on top. A company that is broken will fall in status, therefore the broken company can’t beat Saito. He goes in to make sure it works.
6. The military never released the machine to public, but since some people have it, we can assume the secret got out somehow(theft, ex-developer from army,…). Therefore, there are very few people that have knowledge of it. It is not known about to wide public;only to small public. It coud actually be happening today and we don’t know it.
For comments which had new questions, here are the answers:
Only a syncronized kick on all levels will wake them up with the sedative. There are two types of kicks: a kick on level above, and a kick on the level they are currently on. Falling or death are the only kicks; not spinning. The sedative doesn’t give brain damage. It puts the person who dies in a basic coma until they get out of limbo. The spinning is because the different forces of weight making them feel this and that way is down. They didn’t die or wake up in the car crash because they didn’t feel falling, and the van was possibly made of inforced steel since they noticed the militarized mind. In reality, Fiscer maybe either didn’t feel the need to have bodyguards or he did, but they couldn’t come on the plane and weren’t always with him. Totems are’t programmed for just other people’s dream. They are programmed for every time they go into the dream world, and will work every time. Fiscer isn’t old because he was in Limbo for maybe an hour. Cobb is still young because he was kicked to the dream in the van after he was crushed by the storm. He then drowned because he had maybe a second or two of air once he was in the van. He then died and went back to limbo. However, Saito was in limbo for a long time due to the time differential. When you arrive in limbo, you don’t know you are in limbo and think it is reality. They forget they are in limbo and don’t kill themselves. The free fall doesn’t affect the 3rd level because they feel a change of normal gravity in 1st level, which then affects 2nd level. They don’t feel different in 2nd level since the actual gravity is free fall. So, the environment doesn’t affect the 3rd level because there is no change in environment in 2nd level.The projections don’t get stronger the more you go down, they only stay the same. There may be other people in limbo besides just Cobb and them, but since it is unconstructed, you show up at a random place and don’t think to go anywhere else. Since Cobb’s brain wasn’t mush when he woke up the first time from limbo, we can assume the brain mush effect isn’t permanent, and is more like a coma. If saito waited on the 1st level, he would have died before the kick. They took him down to try to avoid him dying, but it didn’t work. If Cobb would have told Mal to try to change, it wouldn’t work and she would be able to explain it somehow since she will believe it no matter what due to Inception. Cobb may have considered the possibility of putting Adriadne in the dream at first, but then thought against it. This changed when she demanded to be put in the dream. Not everyone knew 100% it would work. They were there to try as hard as possible to succeed in doing it. They didn’t know if it would work, they were trying to do it. Cobb did know it would work since he did it to Mal.
you know you’re in a dream when you dehydrate and start dying within 48 hours
“you know you’re in a dream when you dehydrate and start dying within 48 hours”
Except that every hour in reality is 12 hours dream time, so you wouldn’t notice being thirsty for maybe 10 hours, which would be 5 days of dream time. So if someone were trying to fool you into something they’d have plenty of time to do it-
Why would Fischer ever be on a commercial airline with other passengers? Surely if his competitor was rich enough to BUY the airline he’d have his own private jet, otherwise he wouldn’t be rich enough to cause the asian guy so much worry that he’d have to resort to larking about in fairy land and planting pretty ideas?
Also, if he DID have to go on a commercial airline – WHY would he go on one that his competitor had just bought? Without any bodyguards?
Oh, but the music’s nice.
Fischer owns a private Jet, but very briefly they explain that it has technical issues and you can see him walking from his jet to the commercial jet
And another thing – why does Cobb’s subconscious slip into dreams where he isn’t the dreamer? If you spend 10 years writing a film you should probably notice things like this.
When Dom uses Inception to plant to idea that he and Mal aren’t living in reality, they eventually return to reality (or at least what we think is reality). Mal still thinks she isn’t in reality, so why doesn’t Dom spinn the top (the totem) and prove to her that they are in reality?
[…] ante la posibilidad de que la franquicia de Batman quede irreparablemente dañada con los enormes huecos en la trama de Inception, pero aseguraron que irían a verla sin cuestionamiento alguno de salir Marion […]
to the last one… do u ask how lightsabers work or any other movie technology… its not really a plot hole and nor are your other ones
http://t.co/9Ang9xnl Thanks for ruining my childhood #Jerk
One thing that bothers me is that if all the kicks have to be timed perfectly for them to get out, then why do Sito and Cobb go straight back to reality when they kill themselves in the limbo? Wouldn’t they just go back a layer? If so, wouldn’t that mean the whole movie is a dream because when Cobb and Mal killed themselves, they went straight back to reality when, theoretically, they should just go back one layer.
My question is that when saito gets shot why don’t they just keep him in the first level of the dream and then when they reach the bridge throw him off first so that he can escape back to reality without the risk of his brain turning into scrambled eggs!
And by the way limbo is a state of mind where you don’t know whether you are dreaming or I reality.
The fact that Saito fell into limbo first made him older than Cobb and it is the sole reason why they realized they were in limbo.
When they are in limbo their medications are worn off and once the medication is off you can wake up anytime the sole implication is that you must realize you are dreaming which they do by looking at each others age!
My assumption is that if you live a full length natural life in the limbo then o, waking up in reality your brain turns “Into scrambled eggs”, but if you die by any other reason in the limbo then you wake up just fine!
The reason they could not abort the mission is because falling over is no a big enough kick. In the other dreams, you had to fall a long distance, like off a bridge or a skycraper, or get hit by an explosion, like in layer 3. Falling over doesnt cut it. The reason arthur was kicked by falling out of his chair was because it was on the layer above. This meant in the dream world the whole place would have been turned upside down. And plus, he wasnt under sedation during that dream.
Maybe try watching the movie again, because at first it seems like they are mistakes, but all of the problems you said actually make sense.
Its what makes the movie so good, that you have to see it multiple times to fully appreciate the genius of Christopher Nolan.