#13- Inception (2010)

Click here for Commenting Rules and how GOI's final list came together

Who's This Was This On
- David "MVP" Einstein: #6
- Daniel Bennett: #7
- Adam Kaplan: #19

Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Godron-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy,
Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine

The Plot

Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is an "extractor"- a thief who sneaks into people's minds to steal their inner most thoughts to extract information from them- mainly for corporate espionage. Saito (Watanabe) offers Cobb and his team a lot of money to break into Robert Fischer's (Murphy) dreams in order to add an idea (a.k.a. inception) so that Fischer will dissolve his company in order for Saito to have a monopoly over the energy industry. Inception is believed to be impossible so Cobb and his team are dealt with a tough task of finding a way to add an idea to Robert Fischer's mind. Though once the team begins their inception process things go incredibly wrong. The team must deal with extreme hardship while inside Robert Fischer's mind and must venture further inside his subconscious in order to complete their mission.

Why This Movie Is Great


Why is this movie great? How much time do I have? Inception is fantastic because not only is a complex science fiction brain turner that forces you to watch the movie many, many times in order to understand it fully but it's a great action movie who's second half literally forced me to the edge of my seat when I saw it in the theaters.

At its very basic level, Inception is an action movie. While it's an exciting new twist on the heist movie, it is a heist movie nonetheless. But Inception is all about layers and about depth. If you scratch the surface and go a bit deeper the movie is a psychological story about Cobb and how he chooses to grieve after the death of his wife Mal (Cottilard). Cobb brings Ariadne (Page) into the mission as the architect because he can't create anymore. Now, every time he brings his own imagination into the dream world he sees Mal. Mal is always on his mind and she is so because he still has not let her death go. Mal's death was tragic and Cobb still blames himself for it. However, no matter how horrific a loved's one death may be, it is human nature to grieve and eventually get over it. However, Cobb has not gotten to that point yet and throughout the entire film he struggles to cope with the death of his wife.

As we go even further down the rabbit hole, Inception is about asking yourself what is reality and what is fantasy. The world you live in and what you perceive as real is a social construct and not necessarily objective fact. This was a concept Mal could not face. The film paints a picture that Mal has spent so much time in her fantasy that she can not cope with the realities of "the real world" and therefore kills herself. She believes killing herself will wake her up and get her out of this dream world. Cobb also struggles to differentiate what is real and what is not. One night, Ariadne catches Cobb in a deep, dark slumber. The team's chemist, Yusef (Rao), tells Ariadne that Cobb often spends many, long nights in a slumber and Ariadne catches Cobb dreaming about Mal and the life they lived together. Cobb still struggles to deal with reality which is why he still has not properly coped with Mal's death.

Tangentially, Inception is a metaphor for movie making. Saito, the man who funds the entire mission, is the film's financier. Cobb, who tells everyone what to do and how the show will run, is the director. Arthur (Gordon-Levitt), who does research and the guy sets places up to sleep, is the producer. Ariadne is the screenwriter because she creates the world that will be entered. Eames (Hardy) is the actor as shown by his morphing into different characters throughout the mission. Yusef represents the technical aspects of film making (key grips, lighting, sound guys, etc.). He makes everything needed so that the rest of the crew can successfully complete their mission. Lastly, we have Robert Fischer- who is the audience. Cobb takes Fischer on a wild and amazing adventure so he can have a better understanding of himself.

The biggest question that movie goers have upon first viewing of the movie is whether Cobb's totem top falls over at the very end and whether Cobb successfully got home to see his two children (after all, Cobb took on an incredibly dangerous mission of inception so that he can go home and see his kids- remember Cobb gets blames for Mal's death so he gets forced into exile otherwise he would be locked in jail). First of all, Nolan does not want you to know. The movie at its heart is about the process and not about the end result so Nolan refuses to tell you the end result. However, if you put the clues together, I believe the totem never falls and Cobb does not get to see his kids.

I mainly believe this because when we see the children at the end of the movie they are in the exact same position and look the exact same. This is a very dream-like state. Everything Nolan does is purposeful and volitional and Nolan would not coincidentally place Cobb's children is the EXACT SAME position wearing the exact same clothes.

However, I think the fact that Cobb gets to see his children's faces means that neither we (nor Cobb) really cares that the totem fell. Throughout the movie Cobb struggles to cope with the well-being of his family that the fact that we get to see his children's faces means Cobb is finally starting to move on.

In fact, I believe much of the film is a dream. I think all the scenes in the warehouse are reality but everything else is Cobb's dreams. Think about the plot of the movie rationally and not withing a science fiction movie construct. First, Cobb and Arthur work for a secret corporation and when they fail their mission at the beginning of the movie this secret corporation that we never see is out to get them. Next, Cobb travels all over the world to find his team in order to add an idea into a future CEO's mind. Lastly, Cobb does all this just so he can see his family. He gets off of the place and just like a Disney movie everything is happily ever after. All major plot points are just too dream-like to say they are part of the reality that just happens to fall within the boundaries that Christopher Nolan created for these characters.

I think the scene that is most obviously a dream (before the crew starts their inception mission with Robert Fischer) is the scene where Cobb recruits Eames. First of all, the scene starts off with Cobb and Eames smack dab in the middle of a restaurant in Africa talking to each other. As Cobb tells Ariadne when he first shows her about the dream state, you never know how the dreams start but they feel real once you're in them. The scene starts off randomly and in the middle of a conversation yet you do not know how they got there. Then Cobb gets chased by henchmen of this mysterious corporation. In order to escape them he must travel down alley ways. He loses the henchmen by going down an alley which gets narrower and narrower and he barely escapes in the nick of time. When he does escape Saito is magically and inexplicably waiting for Cobb to whisk him away to safety. All classic elements that it's a dream.

There is great evidence that it's all a dream. As a viewer, we are told that what is real and what is a dream is based upon totems. However, the only totem that we actually see used is Cobb's top. However, Cobb says that the top was originally Mal's. Some people believe that everything was a dream world. First, when Mal kills herself, she is defying logic by being in the hotel room across from Cobb. This is evidence of a dream (Seriously, what person actual rents two hotel rooms, destroys one, then goes to the other in order to kill herself?) and therefore since the top is Mal's but Mal is mainly a dream, the totem is a MacGuffin to the audience and is not actually evidence of reality or fantasy. Others believe that this theory is just reading too much into the movie.

Either way, because I could spend 10+ paragraphs writing about Inception and because the debates will never end about the meaning of the film and because it's just so damn entertaining- Inception deserves a spot on Game Of Inches 25 Greatest Movies of the Past 25 Years list.

FUN FACT: The initials of the main character's names spell DREAMS (Dom, Robert, Eames, Arthur/Ariadne, Mal, Saito)