Monday, December 28, 2009

"Inception" teaser 2 analysis (or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Unemployment")

Hello one and all! Another trailer for Nolan's Inception has come upon us and so, yet again, I am invariably drawn to dissect it. Well, that and having no job makes you do nerdy things.

Okay, maybe I'm just a nerd.

Just in case you missed it, find it here.

The last time I did this, a lot of deduction was done after the breakdown. This time, I'll do it all at the same time to make it easier to understand my logic. Also, for all the spoiler-phobes out there, all of this is from deductions from what WB has officially shown us. Don't worry, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character!

So without further ado, let's have at it!

This trailer wastes no time, starting without so much as a Green Band to tell us it's approved for all audiences. The first thing we see is Leo in something that looks like a dilapidated bathhouse to the sound of the distorted horns from the previous teaser.

Oh, what's that?

Yes, the top we've been teased with for so long is indeed Leo's. He spins it on the tabletop and we cut to detail on it spinning.

from the first teaser

You will note, however, that this is not the same scene as the top from the first teaser.

However, when he grabs it off the table, he seems pained. Why?

We get the Warner Bros. logo as a city again except instead of traveling down to it like in the last trailer, we travel through it. Same basic deduction as before: further emphasis on the idea of the city as a maze. Also, the music from the first trailer begins to evolve into a new piece with insistent strings behind the horns. Perhaps this is finally from the film's score?

Next, we get Leo and Ellen watching as the city before them folds over them. Leo's voiceover says, "A single idea from the human mind can build cities." The main thing to draw from this line-scene juxtaposition is the implication that ideas, or the mind, can affect the landscape of the(se) world(s). The most interesting thing about this scene, however, is that if you look closely, you will see that even though that portion of the city is folding over, the vehicles and people there are not adhering to the rules of gravity.

None of the cars are falling. This would explain the lack of fear in Leo's and Ellen's face in the previous shots. From this, it would seem as if gravity is absolute and does not change even when the city does. However, there is proof of the contrary later.

Before we leave that shot, it's important to notice that even these bystanders don't seem very worried by the city folding on itself.

Then comes the first of many shots of the water glass intercut into this sequence. This is an earlier portion of the water glass shot from teaser 1. Here, it only begins to vibrate, presumably because the world is shaking/shifting. As evidenced by the previous scene, that wouldn't be out of the question in this film.

Leo V.O.: "An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules."

Next, we get a person (seems like a man) coming to a window to see a fire outside in the city, followed by an explosion (is this what Leo means by "transforming the world?"), engulfing some vehicles. People are unsurprisingly running away. This man is wearing what seems to be a white shirt with yellow polka dots. Also, he also does not seem to be very concerned with what's going on outside, judging from his body language. Part of his reflection is visible in the window but not his face. I would ask if anyone with Photoshop could pull it up, but, well, I already have the answer, for later. How's that for suspense?

Now, someone (can't tell who) enters a room filled with what seem to be wounded people. The room itself seems very rundown and a man in the center of the room gets up to meet/greet whoever is entering it.

A shot we've seen before in the teaser, where Leo stands atop some building at night. More details in the previous entry.

not from Inception

It looks very much like Batman in The Dark Knight when he stands atop the Sears Tower.

"...which is why I have to steal it." We see Leo wearing gloves, walking very determinedly through a kitchen as he screws on a silencer on a pistol.

not from Inception

Save for the color temperature, this reminds me of the kitchen where the Joker talks to the gangs in TDK.

After the "From the Director of The Dark Knight" title card, we get a train (!) in the middle of the city, ramming through traffic. If an idea can change the world, can it also makes objects appear a la the loading sequence in The Matrix? I can't think of any other way the train would get into such a disparate environment.

Leo is tailing Ellen through Paris and what starts as voiceover in the train shot is revealed to be Leo's dialogue in this one.

"Never recreate from your memory. Always imagine new places."

Ellen is walking away from Leo as he continues to talk, giving me reason to believe Leo is trying to give her advice about the mind-cities while she's having none of it. This gives us a little more insight about how they work. We'll go back to all this later.

Then we cut to a seemingly idyllic scene with Leo and Ellen at an outdoor Parisian cafe while things explode and get tossed in the air beside them. Again we get the mayhem with calm reactions, as in the city-folding sequence. But why this time? Maybe this is only a simulation so that Leo can prove a point to Ellen about his advice from the previous scene.

Here we get two successive shots from the teaser of Leo watching as Lukas Haas is being taken away. This is the first of the rainy scenes. Judging from the first teaser and the first poster, water figures largely into the story. For more on that, check my previous entry.

"He's hiding something and we need to find out what that is." Who is hiding something? Probably Ken. Or if this is early in the movie, a lesser threat that leads to Ken.

Leo is talking with someone we only see from behind and slightly from the side. Judging from the profile, I am fairly confident it's Cillian Murphy. The people in the background look tense, leading me to believe that Leo is in some sort of trouble and that these people are his security detail. If we look at previous shots of other characters and compare, we can also get one more thing out of this shot.

One of the security detail who is out of focus, carrying a gun, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt (I'll call him JGL from now on; we're tight like that).

And now we get wet again! This time, we see JGL (wearing a leather jacket, not a suit this time) driving a taxi in the rain while someone aims a gun out of its shattered back window. (Because of the perspective in each shot, it's not totally certain they are in the same car, but that is a safe assumption as they seem to be on the same side.) The taxi is driving backwards.

photo of Tom Hardy (not from Inception)

I was going to say it's Leo with the gun but with HD and a closer look, it seems like this actor could pass for Leo, but the shot doesn't seem like it would require a stunt double, so I say it's actually Tom Hardy's character. Thoughts?

My guess is that this belongs to the same sequence as the train shot from earlier, and the taxi is being chased by said train. Can you say set piece?

After the title card sequence for "Your Mind is the Scene of the Crime" begins, we see the water glass shot from teaser 1. Remember what I was saying about absolute gravity before, that there were contradictions? Well, my guess about it lies with this shot. The water would only achieve that angle if it was being tilted over, as in when the city shifts. But why doesn't the glass fall too?

I think that the reason is that solid objects (such as the cars from the folding city and this glass) remain in absolute gravity in the mind-city, regardless of the city's orientation, but fluids (such as water) are still subject to changes in gravity. Which is probably one of the reason why water figures so largely in the film.

And now we see the bad guy! Ken Watanabe (with hopefully more screentime than in Batman Begins) gets up from bed with a gun. Was he feigning sleep? JGL's voiceover begins which becomes his dialogue later. Also:

What kind of medicine is in there? Or is it something else?

More rainy vehicular mayhem, this time a shot of two people on a motorcycle (one with a double-barrel shotgun). Who are they and is this shot connected to the earlier chase sequence?

"We gotta break outta here. Give him the kick!" JGL, up close and personal. His dialogue is the most interesting part of the scene. If these two lines were not edited together from two different scenes, it's easy to infer that 'here' is a mind-city. More fascinating is 'the kick.' The fact that he says 'the kick,' and not 'a kick' is that 'the' makes 'kick' seem like terminology, and not just the general 'kick.' Compare to: "jacking in" in The Matrix.

What follows after mention of 'the kick' is Lukas Haas letting go of someone. By the look of that person's feet, they look as if they are tied to something, a chair perhaps.

Wait, does that shirt look familiar?

Yes, it seems like Lukas is the man nonchalantly witnessing that explosion. Now back to the rest of the trailer:

So here's Leo falling back in a chair, presumably let go by Lukas. Into what? I'm pretty sure they're not short on water...

Two masked men enter a room where two men are on the floor, seemingly as prisoners.

Though he is out of focus, the prisoner we can see looks an awful lot like Cillian Murphy.

"This was not a part of the plan!" Leo yells to someone off-camera, while JGL cocks a gun in the middle of the frame. And would you look at that? A taxi.

Two men fight while the environment shifts. Here we see another contradiction in my gravity theory: the two men are falling, but so are those objects in the room, like the pillow.

Again, the shot is blurry, but judging from the blur of skin color, it's one white guy and one black guy.

from the first teaser

That means it is probably a part of the JGL fight from teaser 1.

Continuing the previous shot, Leo is falling into a tub (?) of water, eyes closed. Is this "the kick"? Does this mean he is going into a mind-city or out of one? Riddle me this...

The JGL fight from before continues. If anyone had any doubt the room was shifting before, take a look at that. JGL is standing on what was a wall while what was a bed has effectively become a wall JGL is scrambling to.

Ellen begins to scream "Wake me up!" over Leo waking and emerging from the tub of water. Is Leo waking up in this shot? From being in a mind-city? Why do they have to be in water? More importantly:

What is Leo holding?

Leo and what looks like JGL (judging from the suit and hair) enter a room, gun raised. This looks like the room from earlier, where Leo talks to Cillian Murphy about someone hiding something. After all, JGL was in that room too.

As Ellen continues to plead "Wake me up!" Leo (who really does look an awful lot like Nolan in this film) stands and watches as the Japanese-themed room he is in begins to flood with bursts of water.

You can guess it's Japanese from the kanji on the wall.

Hm, Ken Watanabe is Japanese and the bad guy and Leo is trapped in a life-threatening situation in a Japanese-themed room? Is there meaning here or is it just the worst coincidence ever?

And with that another amazing trailer comes to a close, same logo animation as before.

Now before I go back to drinking, let me try to sum up what the story might be kinda sort of about:

Ken (the bad guy) is hiding something in these mind-cities that Leo has to find. That something is probably the "resilient parasite," the "idea" Leo refers to in the opening V.O. Ideas can change these mind-cities for better or worse, and since people can be pursued in it, people in the mind-city should "never recreate from memory" and always "imagine new places" so that they cannot be found.

Ellen is Leo's sidekick. Cillian Murphy and JGL seem to be on Leo's side, judging from how they interact with him in their scenes. However, seeing as how JGL is almost always seen kicking ass, he is part of Leo's security detail, and seeing as how Cillian is seen only talking or being a prisoner, he is probably more on Leo's consulting team than anything.

The things still shrouded in so much mystery are Lukas' role and the meaning of the water.

Comparing this info with the first 'Mind Crime' viral game will probably yield more info, but that's for another day. Come back before the new year because I've got one more Inception analysis in the works. In the meantime, please discuss in the comments!

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this trailer analysis as much as I've enjoyed writing it to stave off my depression.
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