Violence in Inception is tricky to tally. At times we see real men get hurt or killed. But much of the violence is perpetuated in dream worlds, where the people we see are not real, but manifestations of the subject's subconscious. As a result, the "real" body count is surprisingly low (at least for a film that wields this much intensity), while metaphysical fatalities run off the chart.
Merging both categories, people are punched, kicked, choked, shot (scores of times), stabbed, hit by cars (several times), blown up, attacked by rampaging mobs, almost buried by avalanches and nearly drowned. Somebody gets shot in the footjust to illustrate that, while dying in a dream state is difficult, pain is all too easy to come by.
The visceral feel of the violence is about what you'd expect for a PG-13 movieand, frankly, maybe a step back from a prime-time actioner on television. The mayhem is practically bloodless (an exception: after a shot to the chest, we see red seep through a man's shirt as he coughs up flecks of blood), and it's perpetrated with a certain, almost chilly, remove.
When someone wants to exit a dream, they simply "kill" themselves or have someone do it for them. Cobb, for instance, shoots one of his compadres in the head to wake him up. (We see a bloodless hole in his forehead.) Because the sensation of falling can jar someone awake, folks routinely engineer the end of their dreams by plummeting off bridges or cutting loose elevator cables. One character throws another off a cliff.
[Spoiler Warning] This fixation with dreamscape suicide manifests itself in tragic fashion with Cobb's wife, Mal. The two of them slip into a dream state for, seemingly, decades before Cobb begins to think that perhaps both of them have gotten lost there. He plants an idea into Mal's braina true one, in this casethat the life they're "living" is not real, and he encourages her to commit suicide with him. They both lay their heads on a railroad track as a train rumbles toward them. (The scene ends just before the train reaches them.) The act jars them both back to what is, apparently, the real world but Mal can't shake the feeling that this life, too, is still a dreamincluding their two children. She begins to fondle knives and begs Cobb to enter another suicide pact with her so they can see their "real" children. Cobb, of course, refuses. Then, on their anniversary, Cobb finds Mal on a ledge, ready to jump. "I'm going to ask you to take a leap of faith," she tells him, adding that she fabricated evidence that, should she die, would frame Cobb for her "murder"her way of encouraging Cobb to die with her. Then she jumps.