Inception – the word’s definition is simple, the start of something . The movie on the other hand is a lot more complex and intricate.
Inception follows a team of highly skilled professionals on a mission to plant an idea in a multi-millionaire heir’s (Robert Fischer – played by Cillian Murphy) mind, in order to get him to dissolve his father’s company. In order to get Mr Fischer to dissolve his father’s company, the idea needs to be planted deep in his subconscious so that he believe it is his own idea.
In order to do this, the team performs what is known as “dream sharing” – a method of entering someone’s dream – whereby the original dreamer is unaware that they are dreaming but everyone else knows that it is a dream.
Most of the movie takes place in the dream world – where time is highly exaggerated. As Cobb (the main protagonist – played by Leonardo DiCaprio) explains – normally five mins in the real world translates to an hour in the dream world.
The movie deals with some complex inner conflict which our protagonist is struggling with. With the help of Ariadne (played by Ellen Page), Cobb’s new dream architect, he is able to break through the walls of this conflict and face it head on.
The movie keeps you guessing and pushes the boundaries of what is real and what is a dream to the extent that you will be mesmerized for the entire duration of this lengthy film.
Spoilers galore below this line
The movie begins with a man – Cobb – who washes onto the shores of a beach. Some security around the beach find him and take him to the “man in charge”. The man, unknown at this point, tells Cobb that he can recall him from “some half-remembered dream” many years ago…
The scene cuts and Cobb is now having dinner with another man, in a seemingly similar room. It is here that we learn that Cobb is an “extractor” – one who goes into people’s dreams to steal ideas.
We begin to understand that Cobb is inside a dream, and he is trying to get information from this man he was initially having dinner with – Saito. Things turn sour and Cobb is unable to get the information he needs from Saito’s mind, as Saito was able to realize what Cobb was trying to do.
Jump back to reality and we learn that Cobb is on the run from a corporation that hired him to get the information from Saito. Saito finds Cobb and his apprentice -Arthur – and makes him an offer which he can’t turn down. Saito’s request is (as he would deem) simple. Perform “inception” in someone’s mind. The start of a idea. Arthur proclaims that it’s impossible, but Cobb assures us that it is possible, the idea just needs to be simple! Saito explains that he wants a multi-millionaire heir (Robert Fischer) to dissolve his father’s company. The idea is seemingly more complex that Saito had originally lead us to believe.
Cobb needs to assemble a team to help him plant this idea into the mind of Robert Fischer. During the assembling of the team we learn that Cobb is a man seeking redemption for a crime which he did not commit. The murder of his wife. He longs to return to America to see his two children – which he had to leave behind due to the charges against him. Saito’s offer from earlier will allow him to return to America with the charges dropped. This is where Cobb gets all his motivation to complete this job.
Cobb finds all the members of the team he requires; a new architect (to build dream levels), a forger (to help impersonate others within the dream), a chemist (in order to produce a sedative strong enough to keep them in uninterrupted dream state), and a close friend of Cobb’s.
Mr Fischer’s father dies and it gives the team the perfect opportunity to enter his dreams – because the funeral is held in Los Angeles, a 10 hour flight.
The original plan is to go three levels deep (a dream, within a dream, within a dream). The reason for this is, each dream level compounds time giving them more time to work on getting the idea to stick in Mr Fischer’s head. However, as soon as they enter the first dream level, Mal (Cobb’s late wife) is in the dreams too, as part of Cobb’s subconscious.
The team manage to “kidnap” Mr Fischer in the first level, despite the obstacles that they face. Apart from Mal interfering with the dream, Mr Fischer has also been trained against “dream extraction” – which means that his subconscious is able to fight the invaders – with extreme force.
Once at the second level of the dream, Cobb decides to masquerade as “Mr Charles” – who is effectively the head of security for “dream extraction” security. This involves telling Mr Fischer, that he is in a dream, which can be extremely dangerous. However, this pays off and allows the Team to win over Mr Fischer’s trust.
They then proceed into the third level of the dream where Mr Fischer is unfortunately killed by Mal before he is able to unlock the safe – where the idea has been planted. This forces Cobb and Ariadne to go yet another level deeper, in order to recuse Mr Fischer, so that he can open the safe and can successfully have a new idea in his mind.
Cobb and Ariadne manage to find and recuse Mr Fischer, but at a cost that Cobb is left behind – entering limbo. At this point, we jump back to the scene where we left right at the beginning of the movie and realise that the man Cobb after washing onto the shore is Saito.
We are lead to believe that Saito and Cobb kill themselves which allows them to leave the dream state they were in on the plane. Once Saito awakens, he promptly makes the phone call to allow Cobb to re-enter America (free of charges).
Cobbs enters America and is greeted by his grandfather, who takes him back to his children. Cobb meets his children, but not before spinning a spinning top on the table. The significance of this top is that in the dream state – it is believed to spin forever. Before the top is able to stop spinning, the picture fades to black.