The Kick

This 2010 contemporary sci-fi actioner follows a subconscious security team around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams.
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Yeah that's the best explanation I've heard.
So, when testing the sedative on Arthur and waking him by pushing his chair over, are we to assume Arthur is kicking himself out of the dream at the same time? Or do we think waking up from level 1 to the real world is different than waking up from one dream level to another?

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bmneu wrote:
I think thats a completely valid point which jm has recently brought to my attention. Meaning it isn't quite a choice (I was going back to a previous view by accident), but just the point that you need to leave limbo while also having something that you're consciousness can grab onto.

I'm going to try to just reargue what jm says in my own way. There are two sets of rules that applies to limbo:

1)No sedation is used.
Only death is necessary to leave limbo...not suicide, but death of any kind. At the moment of death in limbo, or instead, any level of the subconscious you go to an instantaneous state of nothingness where your conscious mind searches for the out. You can think of it in a way that means you are in a brain-dead state that if your conscious mind can't find a way out... your conscious mind ceases to exist... which might mean you just die... brain dead, in the least. Lets just say for the sake of the argument, that if Limbo is, in fact, just Level 4 of your subconscious (at the lowest level of the subconscious in the least, whatever level that might be for any given individual), then your conscious mind... your reality... would search for an out in the next level up. If there is something to grab onto in that level, it will. If not, it will continue until it has something to grab onto. In the case of Mal and Cobb, there was no previous state to grab onto. No kick was put in place to have them wake in a previous state. Death, according to their example, supersedes all layers and grabs onto life in reality. They woke up

2)Sedation is used.
Death is not the only thing necessary to leave limbo. After your conscious mind would search for an out and supersede all the layers, it would not be able to find reality and wake you up from Level 0, if you will, because you are under heavy sedation. Now, if the conscious mind was able to find a way out prior to reaching Level 0, then it would grab onto it. It would grab onto the kick... the kick of the falling building.

Now there are some flaws in this logic, but the flaws can be bypassed with further narration. For instance, with this logic, there would be no need for the building to blow up as the mind would search for a kick in another level which would be the falling elevator and wake there. Another flaw would be that it would just wake you in the next level regardless of a kick. Maybe someone else like jm can help me explain what I can't
I pretty much agree with this post. What I was arguing about earlier is that one of your previous posts stated that Limbo is only a state of mind when Arthur clearly defines it as a place.

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I essentially agree with this and tried to go into more detail as to what is actually occurring at the subconscious level in my last post. To put it in terms that makes the "rule" understandable.

I would revise what you've said in a couple of minor ways. Instead of a "push" and "pull" I'd call it "death" with a "pull-kick." I think to describe it as a "push" is misleading. A "push" could imply that they just have to jump into a pool or have their chair tipped over, which isn't the case. They have to die while in limbo and have it synchronized with a pull-kick from above to escape from limbo. The reason that I added the "from limbo" qualifier is because it is harder to leave when lost in the mind's subconscious. *edited because I confused myself* :D

Also, the van hitting the bridge's barricade should not be considered a kick. The only kick that is part of the team's plan on level 1 is the van hitting the water. I go into more explanation, including how it fits with the rest of their plan, earlier in this thread.

Finally, I do think that Cobb has developed a resistance to being pulled out of a dream. We see this in the opening scene where he is resisting being awoken in Saito's love nest while he is scanning the confidential document a level down in Saito's palace. A dunk in the bathtub is required to pull him up and he isn't under any "designer" type of sedative; only the normal dosage of somnacin administered by the PASIV (dream machine). Even as he is submerged under water, he sees the effects on level 2 with the water streaming through the windows before finally being pulled out. We are also told later that the only way Cobb can dream is through use of the PASIV as he has developed some sort of immunity to dreams and needs the powerful effects of the machine. This unique ability was developed through his mentoring by Miles and his extensive subconscious exploration with Mal. It is what makes him the best extractor in the world and helps him to remain behind in limbo to locate Saito.
Cwill wrote:Because of the potency of the sedative, two kicks needed to be synchronized on different levels. IE, a "push" and a "pull".

In limbo, Ariadne noticed the lightning that had begun, and knew Eames was attempting to resuscitate Fisher. Fisher is brought to level 3 through a push (thrown off the building), along with a pull (the defibrillator).

Once Ariadne notices the buildings in limbo are collapsing, she throws herself off the building, knowing Eames must have detonated the charges. Her push is her throwing herself off the building, synchronized with the pull occurring in level 3 with her body falling on debris from the explosion.

*The fact that the two kicks need to be synchronized explain -
--Why Cobb isn't pulled out of limbo.
--Why Arthur doesn't get pulled to level 1 when the van first goes off the bridge.
--Why none of them get kicked back into reality after waking in level 1 in the van.

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I like this theory! Having a regular "Kick" and a "Death Kick" better explains what has been framed in the movie...rather than the the notion of a "push kick" that some are assuming without any movie explanation.
jm9843 wrote:I essentially agree with this and tried to go into more detail as to what is actually occurring at the subconscious level in my last post. To put it in terms that makes the "rule" understandable.

I would revise what you've said in a couple of minor ways. Instead of a "push" and "pull" I'd call it "death" with a "pull-kick." I think to describe it as a "push" is misleading. A "push" could imply that they just have to jump into a pool or have their chair tipped over, which isn't the case. They have to die while in limbo and have it synchronized with a pull-kick from above to escape from limbo. The reason that I added the "from limbo" qualifier is because it is harder to leave when lost in the mind's subconscious. *edited because I confused myself* :D

Also, the van hitting the bridge's barricade should not be considered a kick. The only kick that is part of the team's plan on level 1 is the van hitting the water. I go into more explanation, including how it fits with the rest of their plan, earlier in this thread.

Finally, I do think that Cobb has developed a resistance to being pulled out of a dream. We see this in the opening scene where he is resisting being awoken in Saito's love nest while he is scanning the confidential document a level down in Saito's palace. A dunk in the bathtub is required to pull him up and he isn't under any "designer" type of sedative; only the normal dosage of somnacin administered by the PASIV (dream machine). Even as he is submerged under water, he sees the effects on level 2 with the water streaming through the windows before finally being pulled out. We are also told later that the only way Cobb can dream is through use of the PASIV as he has developed some sort of immunity to dreams and needs the powerful effects of the machine. This unique ability was developed through his mentoring by Miles and his extensive subconscious exploration with Mal. It is what makes him the best extractor in the world and helps him to remain behind in limbo to locate Saito.
Cwill wrote:Because of the potency of the sedative, two kicks needed to be synchronized on different levels. IE, a "push" and a "pull".

In limbo, Ariadne noticed the lightning that had begun, and knew Eames was attempting to resuscitate Fisher. Fisher is brought to level 3 through a push (thrown off the building), along with a pull (the defibrillator).

Once Ariadne notices the buildings in limbo are collapsing, she throws herself off the building, knowing Eames must have detonated the charges. Her push is her throwing herself off the building, synchronized with the pull occurring in level 3 with her body falling on debris from the explosion.

*The fact that the two kicks need to be synchronized explain -
--Why Cobb isn't pulled out of limbo.
--Why Arthur doesn't get pulled to level 1 when the van first goes off the bridge.
--Why none of them get kicked back into reality after waking in level 1 in the van.

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I kind of like what CWill has said. That makes perfect sense to me. PUSH + PULL because of the heavy sedation, not one or the other, not either or, but both at the same time. In order to make work, added narration is needed, but I can imagine it could have just been a single line of dialogue in the warehouse instead of multiple lines of dialogue + inference to explain other theories.

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bmneu wrote:I kind of like what CWill has said. That makes perfect sense to me. PUSH + PULL because of the heavy sedation, not one or the other, not either or, but both at the same time. In order to make work, added narration is needed, but I can imagine it could have just been a single line of dialogue in the warehouse instead of multiple lines of dialogue + inference to explain other theories.
K, thinking over it again, not so much. Regardless of the heavy sedation, it didn't hinder the inner ear function in the slightest. One kick should work...I just want to know what Nolan intended for the kicks. I don't care if there is a plot hole, I just want to hear it from Nolan.

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bmneu wrote:I don't care if there is a plot hole, I just want to hear it from Nolan.
I wish the same, but it's unlikely, considering the fact that Nolan really never "clarifies" things in his movies.
If she plays cranium she gives good brainium.

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I assumed that the plane descending brought them back to reality from level 1?

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now after confirming the sequence, i will say i agree to the "pull-kick" theory....it must be both way

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Some people seem to be coming to a consensus here, so I decided to register and prove you all wrong :D

Indeed, from what I've been reading on this site regarding the kicks, it seems like many people are overthinking it. The push/pull theories, the ability to resist or choose to "take" a kick, the necessity of synchronizing 2 kicks at once... I really believe it's much more straightforward than that.

That said, I haven't read every single post on the matter in this forum, so I don't pretend to be the first or only person to think of it this way.

How it works:

The only ways we see a dreamer exit a dream level in the film are through death or free fall in the dream. Not in the level above the dream, not in real life. Period.

It's also implied in certain intances that a character can simply run out the clock, but I can't remember if we see it happen on screen. Maybe when Cobb is testing Yusuf's sedative? At any rate, I assume that's how they wake up from level 1 to the plane because they wake up just as they are descending in L.A.

Since you have to fall in the dream, if you are asleep in the dream level you are falling in, you will not wake up. That is why Arthur does not wake up when the van is falling. To wake up in the van, he has to fall in the hotel.

Don't believe me?

During the Cobol job at the beginning of the film, Cobb doesn't wake up when they push over his chair. He doesn't wake up when he hits the water. He wakes up when the waves come crashing down on him within the dream. There is no "pull."

During the sequence at the end with the multiple kicks, all are initiated by free fall within the dream. At level 4, Ariadne and Fischer fall (or die, depending on the actual rules of limbo which will not be discussed here--either way my theory is intact). Level 3: The supports of the tower are blown up, dropping everyone at the same time, and just in time for Ariadne to wake up and experience the fall. Level 2: Propelled by the explosion set by Arthur, the elevator hits the bottom of the shaft and everyone falls from the cieling to the floor of the elevator. At that moment they awake from the previous level just in time to experience the feeling of free fall, where they awake in level 1, in the van, which has already hit the water (despite the original plan presumably having been to awake as the van was still falling so they could wake up on the plane--it was necessary as a plot device for Cobb to drown in the van so that he could end up in Saito's limbo).

The synchronicity of the kicks is not a simultaneity of kicks. Free fall at each level must be simultaneous, but they only experience one kick at a time, one level at a time. This method was necessary to suck them from the bottom level back to reality because orchestrating a kick for everyone at each individual level would have been messy and time consuming for both the audience and the characters in the film.

We see Ariadne as she rides the kicks: Fall (die?), wake up in free fall, wake up in free fall, wake up in van. Simple as that.

Possible holes in this theory debunked:

The most obvious contradiction to this idea is the montage sequence that shows the discussion of kicks, Yusuf explaining how the sedative allows inner ear functioning so that they can use falling in order to kick, and finally shots of Arthur getting pushed off his chair. Now obviously, if someone is sleeping and you push them over, they will wake up. But I still can't explain why Nolan would use that as a visual explanation of how kicks work, especially when they are preparing for the heist in which kicks function in a completely different way. For the record, it's my opinion that the way we see kicks work during the heist overrides this inconsistency, not the other way around merely because the chair scenes take place first.

Another possible contradiction that I can reconcile was in the scene following the avalanche caused by the van running into the rail as it drives off the bridge. Cobbs states the avalanche meant that they "missed the kick," and refers to the van hitting the water as "the next kick." It's confusing, and I think that it has misled many of you into thinking that physical impacts in the first level serve a kick-like function. I believe he means that the "first kick" is the free fall of the van, signified by the van hitting the rail. They need to get back before the "next kick," by which Cobb probably means death inside the submerged van, so that they can catch the van in free fall. The impact of the van hitting the water has no function, as seen by the fact that they are already underwater when they wake up. They are not "pulled" by the impact, they simply fall in the elevator in the level below to wake up. When they say the "first kick" of the van falling was "missed," it makes me think that they planned to wake up during the van's fall and the oxygen used underwater was a contingency.

The last inconsistency that I can think of is that Yusuf should have woken up when the van began to fall. I would have just assumed that he did, but I read somewhere that he can be seen swimming to shore later on. I didn't notice that myself during either of the two times I saw the film, but I plan on looking closely for that, among other things, when I see it a third time hopefully in IMAX :)

I'm not trying to show up and appear a prima donna. I have been lurking this forum since before the film came out and many of your posts have contributed to my understanding of the film and I appreciate that.

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