Inception is a 2010 science fiction action film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who also produced the film with Emma Thomas, his wife. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets. He is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person's idea into a target's subconscious. The ensemble cast includes Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.
After the 2002 completion of Insomnia, Nolan presented to Warner Bros. a written 80-page treatment for a horror film envisioning "dream stealers," based on lucid dreaming. Deciding he needed more experience before tackling a production of this magnitude and complexity, Nolan shelved the project and instead worked on 2005's Batman Begins, 2006's The Prestige, and The Dark Knight in 2008. The treatment was revised over 6 months and was purchased by Warner in February 2009. Inception was filmed in six countries, beginning in Tokyo on June 19 and ending in Canada on November 22. Its official budget was $160 million, split between Warner Bros. and Legendary. Nolan's reputation and success with The Dark Knight helped secure the film's US$100 million in advertising expenditure.
Inception's premiere was held in London on July 8, 2010; it was released in both conventional and IMAX theaters beginning on July 16, 2010. Inception grossed over $828 million worldwide, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2010. Considered one of the best films of the 2010s, Inception received critical praise for its screenplay, direction, themes, action sequences, visual effects, musical score, and ensemble cast. It won four Academy Awards (Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects) and was nominated for four more: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score.
A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O.
Dominick "Dom" Cobb and Arthur are "extractors"; they perform corporate espionage using experimental military technology to infiltrate their targets' subconscious and extract information through a shared dream world. Their latest target, Saito, reveals he arranged their mission to test Cobb for a seemingly impossible job: implanting an idea in a person's subconscious, or "inception". Saito wants Cobb to convince Robert, the son of Saito's competitor Maurice Fischer, to dissolve his father's company. Saito promises to clear Cobb's criminal status, which prevents him from returning home to his children.
Cobb accepts the offer and assembles his team: Eames, an identity forger; Yusuf, a chemist with a sedative for the "dream within a dream" strategy; and Ariadne – an architecture student of his father-in-law, Professor Stephen Miles – tasked with designing the dream's labyrinth. Ariadne discovers that Cobb's subconscious houses an invasive projection of his late wife, Mal. After Fischer dies, the team accompanies Robert on a flight where they sedate him into a shared dream. At each dream level, the person generating the dream stays behind to set up a "kick" to awaken other team members from the deeper dream. These kicks must occur simultaneously, despite time flowing faster in each successive level.
The first level is Yusuf's dream of Los Angeles. The team abducts Robert but is attacked by projections from his subconscious. Saito is wounded, and Cobb reveals that while dying in the dream would normally waken dreamers, the sedatives will instead send them into "limbo": a world of the infinite subconscious. Eames impersonates Robert's godfather, Peter Browning, to suggest that Robert reconsider his father's will. Cobb tells Ariadne that he and Mal entered limbo while experimenting with the dream-sharing technology. Sedated for five hours of real-time, they spent fifty years in a dream world. When Mal refused to return to reality, Cobb used a form of inception by reactivating her totem, an object dreamers use to distinguish dreams from reality. After waking up, Mal still believed she was dreaming. Attempting to "wake up", she committed suicide and framed Cobb to force him to do the same. Cobb fled the U.S., leaving his children in Miles' care.