I don’t even know if I know how to explain in words what I thought of Inception. I knew going into it that a lot of people found it confusing, but if you take it at face value I think it’s fairly easy to follow, it’s when you really start to think about it that things start to get interesting.
There will be a lot of spoilers from here on out so if you haven’t seen the movie I suggest you stop reading now. Seriously, go into the movie the first time not knowing anything then come back here and read my thoughts and theories, you’ll ruin the movie for yourself if you read about it first, trust me.
So again, I’m not sure if anything I say here is going to make sense, but I’m going to try. The movie itself is, at it’s core, is a heist film. It’s about a team of people that are hired by a third party to break in to a secure place, that place just happens to be the mind of another person in this case. So Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is hired to break into the mind of Robert Fischer Jr., the heir to a large corporation, by Saito, the head of a rival company. But this case is different, Saito doesn’t need Cobb and his team to retrieve a secret, he needs them to plant an idea that would cause Fischer to break up his father’s company, thus leaving Saito’s company as a super power. The idea of planting a thought it someone’s dreams is called Inception and it’s only been done once before, by Cobb to his wife who ended up killing herself because she couldn’t see the difference between the real world and the dream world, so after her and Cobb awoke from spending a lifetime in “limbo” (which is another aspect of the dream world) she thought that reality was just another layer of the dream, so she killed herself. And since Cobb wouldn’t go along with her plan, she framed him for her death instead, and it’s she who has been haunting his dreams ever since.
I really don’t want to go through and explain the entire movie so I’m going to skip to some theories I had and a couple that I read elsewhere that I didn’t think of, but kind of make sense. When I left the theater my initial reaction was that everything ended as it ended, Cobb and his crew successfully completed the job and Saito made good on his end of the bargain, Cobb went back home to his kids and everything was great. But after thinking about it for a while longer, that spinning top at the end really stuck with me, as Nolan intended it to, but it got me thinking. As I said, my initial reaction was that the plane to LAX was reality as was the train at the very beginning, which would then make him going home to his kids in the end reality as well, but what if it wasn’t. What if the entire movie was a dream and what he thought was reality in the end was just another level of the dream.
We’re never really shown any sort of indication that reality is “reality” other than the totems that each person carries around to let them know that they are still in reality, but those could all be tricks that their subconscious is playing on them, or just on Cobb, since it could just be his dream that this whole movie takes place in. I don’t really know how to explain it all, but it could make sense, but I also had another theory.
Everything up until the testing of Yusuf’s sedation is reality (aside from the beginning when they are obviously in Saito’s dreams), meaning that they do wake up on the train and Cobb does go seek out Yusuf, but once he tests that sedation, everything after that is a dream. I think the main point that leads credence to this theory is the fact that when Cobb “wakes” from the sedation he goes to the bathroom to splash water on his face because something about it terrified him, but Saito interrupts him before he can spin the top in order to see if this was still reality. So in essence after this point in the movie we never see the top spin and stop ever again (if I recall correctly). So everything after that would just be Cobb diving deeper and deeper into his subconscious as he battles the idea of him implanting the Inception that nothing is real, in his wife, thus leading her to kill herself. So once he comes to terms with that and “defeats” her in the end, he can move on and lead a happy life, but his happy life is still within his dreams.
I think this 2nd theory makes more sense to me although I can’t take credit for it, I did read it online. It just seems to fit more with everything in my mind. Fischer was just another projection that Cobb created to help him get passed his wife’s death. His subconscious created all the characters that he needed to help him overcome it.
Or maybe Cobb also killed himself with his wife and the whole movie is his purgatory as he tries to overcome the guilt of knowning that his mind was too weak to discern between the real world and the dream world and he’s the reason his wife killed himself. So in order to move on he had to help her move on as well… Ok, now I’m just babbling because that doesn’t really make sense, because in his perfect world I think his wife would be there with his kids, not just his kids so I’m going to stop now before I start coming up with more ridiculous theories.
Either way you look at Inception it’s a great film from beginning to end. The writing, the acting, the directing, everything about this movie was incredible and just the fact that I’m still thinking about it makes me realize just how good of a movie it really is. So thanks again Christopher Nolan for showing Hollywood that there are still original ideas out there and that people will still support them if they are good.