Ever wanted to go back to finish that dream you had? Maybe it’s the one where you became a millionaire or one where you were reunited with a lost loved one. But consider the possibility the dream wasn’t actually yours, rather a fabrication that someone implanted in your mind. Christopher Nolan, known for his non-linear storytelling and ambiguity in films, explores this notion of dreams in his sci-fi action film, “Inception.” The film follows Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), whose skill for extracting valuable information from people in their weakened dream state makes him a fugitive and prevents him from reuniting with his children. He has a chance for redemption when he is hired by a billionaire businessman for the ultimate, difficult mission of implanting a dream into his competitor’s mind, whose company poses a threat to his business. Cobb assembles a team composed of an architect, chemist and other brilliant minds to succeed in the heist. “Inception” is a mind-bending watch with intricate details that make it a truly unique film.
A large part of what makes the film fascinating is its ambiguity and complexity. “Inception” tells its story in different layers that explores three dreams within dreams. The film not only includes the major plot of the team’s journey to accomplish their mission, but also a sub-plot which explores Cobb’s married life before becoming a fugitive. The film seamlessly tells two storylines, the impossible mission and Cobb’s personal life, which compliment one another. It’s one of those movies where you have to watch a few times to understand it in its entirety, and each time you do, you’ll find something new.
Most sci-fi/thriller films are known for their action-packed sequences and rapid car chases, but “Inception” is different in that it places the audience in a whirlwind of emotions. The audience experiences confusion and frustration due to the vast amount of detail regarding dreams and the subconscious mind, while on the other hand, it undergoes sympathy for Cobb and his sorrowful marriage. The audience is able to appreciate the film and its unanswered questions through various viewings.
With its focus on dreams and infinite possibilities, “Inception” contains a myriad of subtle messages. Through showcasing the extreme attention to detail the team is posed with when implanting a dream, “Inception” questions our perception of the very reality we live in. At times, it’s difficult to perceive whether the team is in a dream or reality. Since “Inception” is known for its ambiguity, the audience is left to ponder for themselves what actually occurred in the film. In turn, the audience experiences its own “dream” by imagining how the story is unfolding. Thus, it places the audience directly in the film by causing them to also experience a dream-like state as the film follows the team’s journey in various dream worlds. The film signifies that one’s interpretation of their surroundings is what gives life meaning, as reality is what we make of it.
As the main character, Cobb presents an interesting character study on morality. On one hand, Cobb’s choice to take the mission can be justified because he is doing it for the sake of his family. However, his actions may be selfish as he is overstepping boundaries to invade someone else’s privacy by implanting false beliefs. Cobb is split between upholding his role as a father or tampering with someone’s beliefs, and it is up to the audience to decide if his intentions are justified.
“Inception” can be watched multiple times, especially considering that it is inevitable to miss key aspects in the first watch. The film’s complexity in creating dreams makes for an intriguing experience and provides a new perspective on reality. “Inception” is not just a sci-fi thriller, but also an enigma that the audience is left to solve. It is sure to impress anyone with its complex plot and Cobb’s character depth that stems curiosity in the audience.