Hmm, stj, I don't really know what to make of your post. I am sure you had a valid point (maybe a general review?) but I am just not getting it out of what you wrote. It is a little less than coherent; perhaps you could provide some clarification?
I do agree with you that the scifi themes were underexplored, that
only real exploration of the dreams (or movies) vs. reality theme is the Murphy catharsis which is at best a minor part of the movie
, but I think that comes from Nolan making a heist movie rather than a scifi movie.
I also have to disagree with you on what I perceive to be your statement about the movie characters and Page's character in particular. Just because she is given a name from mythology doesn't mean that her character must mirror the mythological one, nor must it always reinforce the theme of the movie. Sometimes it can just be a tip of the hat to some related ideas. To me this name dropping is similar to that of the tv show LOST. Including novel titles and philosopher names can be used to parallel the themes of an episode, but sometimes they are just there for fun. Not tying them wholesale into the narrative doesn't make the character or character designs a failure as you seem to indicate.
Extensive editing on post may make it clearer.
As for it being a heist movie, lots of the action sequences are boring. Only the free fall sequence is genuinely successful. The cliches about running from Cobol Corporation are so tiresome as to make people wonder whether the whole movie's a dream. And a good heist movie also has characters in it. The only characters with real life in them are Murphy's, DiCaprio's and Gordon-Levitt's. On the other hand, good heist movies don't generally have monsters in them. Cotillard's character is a monster, albeit a fairly highbrow one. The movie is just wrong
in very many ways.
Trying to find artistic subtlety in a movie with anvilicious names like Ariadne and Moll is a losing game.
How did DiCaprio and Watanabe escape from limbo?
A dream "death" would merely wake up the dreamer, according to the opening sequence of the movie. But we learned later that "death" would not wake up a sedated dreamer, but send them into limbo.
Watanabe's age suggests that a very long subjective time has passed. But this passage of time is supposed to derange the victim trapped in limbo. The mental stress of the situtation to Cotillard is what impelled DiCaprio to perform the first inception on her in the first place.
DiCaprio and Watanabe would escape when the sedation woke off and the dreamers were wakened and not before. What would DiCaprio do to speed this up? It is not at all clear. Possibly he merely helped Watanabe and himself wait it out.
But the final scene shows Watanabe grasping a gun. DiCaprio incepted the idea that "suicide" in limbo would return the dreamer to reality. But that was a trick aimed to reconcile Cotillard with limbo life. Upon return to reality, the idea that suicide was the way to return to reality stuck, causing the tragedy behind the whole story.
If Watanabe and DiCaprio escape by suicide, it contradicts the rules given previously. If they don't escape that way, what is the point of the scene, except to unfairly confuse the viewer?
Another Way the Rules are Broken
Page sees DiCaprio "asleep." We do not see the dream until she engages the extraction apparatus. DiCaprio (and the opium den dreamers) have substituted the extraction apparatus for normal dreaming, since they can no longer dream. By the way, that's absurd. The thing is, their dreams are no longer beginning in the middle. These dreamers know how they got to where they were. But dreams are supposed to be identified by the way they begin in the middle, without the dreamer's knowledge of how they got there.