Christopher Nolan is no longer a director, he is a magician. The type of magician that has the power to transform the audience’s thoughts and question the reality of not what is in front of them, but what exists around them.
Nolan is no stranger to the thriller genre. With overflowing, complex plots in Memento and Prestige, toying with the viewer is his strong suit. After ten years of writing, Inception is Nolan’s opus.
Viewers will find much of the film adrift in their own interpretation. Much like Prestige, Inception isn’t about seeing what is there, it is about understanding what isn’t. Cobb (Dicaprio) works as some dream robber, performing jobs to gain valuable information from the subject’s dream that he is in.
Cobb has just burned his last bridge when Saito (Watanabe), a rich businessman, offers Cobb a opportunity to return from his exile to be with his kids. The offer, however, is the perpendicular task of the implantation, or inception, of an idea into the victim’s psyche. A task that everyone, except Cobb, passes off as impossible.
The mission is to subconsciously convince the son, Robert Fischer (Murphy), of an ailing energy tycoon to split up his father’s company. A move that would prove too prosperous to Saito’s business interests. Cobb collects a team of dream magicians all charged with unique jobs. Ariadne (Page) becomes the architect, employed to create the visual aspects of the dreamer. Others take part as being able to change personas in the dream or sedate individuals. All, in the end, falling victim to the secrets Cobb has let seep into his dreams and memories.
There is no way to fully explain the rest of the plot with any respect to the reader. As the audience, we often find ourselves trapped in the maze of reality, with only the Virgil-esque Cobb at our side for interpretation. To simply put words next to each other would leave the moviegoer lost in a sea of ink, one that only Nolan could helm out of. There are plenty of gun fights, car chases, and explosions which will quench any yearning for action. Playing off of Momento and The Prestige, the final scene will leave the viewer to question the existence of what really just happened. Again, was it something we saw, or was it something we thought we understood.
The director uses the labyrinth of the subconscious to question the idea around the audience. Maybe, in theory, we are all victims of each other’s subconscious, constantly interpreting and creating the world around each other. On the way home, I couldn’t help but think that everything around the next corner was just a recreation from my memory. I had driven down this street a thousand times and because of this, my subconscious was recreating something that I had experienced those thousand times, leaving me to dream or delve in other thoughts. Maybe this is Nolan’s scope, then again, maybe it is Nolan’s hope that when we die, we only wake up as if it was just a dream.