Writer and director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) explores human creativity, how ideas take root in people’s minds, relationships, dreams, guilt, and the consequences. And it all happens in a swirl of action that threatens at any moment to break the spell and annihilate Cobb and his crew.
Reality for Cobb and his associates resembles a three-dimensional tapestry of interwoven events, ideas, and characters. And within this reality, humans can create but not from nothing. Dreams are real but dependent on realities outside our minds—and the accuracy of our deepest perceptions of those larger realities.
The story makes the most sense when experienced through Cobb’s eyes as he struggles to maintain his grip on reality so that he can reconcile his past and reunite with his family. And where other films have gotten bogged down in philosophical dialogue Inception explores the everyday implications.
The suspense is less about what’s going to happen and more about what’s happening, what’s real. And in the process, the story invites us to experience the story less as a complicated story arc and more as we experience our lives—in the ever-complicated present.