Inception (2010)

Screenplay Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Movie Time: 148 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

After botching an extraction job for their employer Cobol Engineering, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) decide to lay low for a while, but before they can take a chopper out of the city, Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers Cobb a proposal. Saito assures Cobb that he will be able to return to the United States and see his children if Cobb carries out an “inception”: making Saito’s main competitor’s son decide to break up his father’s empire. (00:18:32)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

But Cobb needs an architect. It’s too dangerous for him to design dreams because of his projections of Mal (Marion Cotllard), his dead wife, so Cobb goes to Paris to meet Mal’s father, Miles (Michael Caine), who introduces him to Ariadne (Ellen Page), an even better architect than Cobb. After Cobb takes Ariadne into her first shared dream experience – where Mal stabs her – Ariadne quits. But Cobb knows she’ll be back: reality will no longer be enough for her. (00:34:48)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

After assembling the entire team – Cobb; Arthur; Ariadne; Eames (Tom Hardy), the forger; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the chemist, and Saito, the financer – and planning their three level dream strategy, Ariadne sneaks into Cobb’s personal dream and discovers he has built a prison of memories to contain Mal. Once back in reality, Ariadne advises Cobb that the team needs someone (her) who understands his struggle. Cobb nods in agreement and tells Saito to “get us another seat on the plane.” (1:01:21)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

After a shootout in the snowy fields surrounding the fortress, Fischer (Cillian Murphy) finally reaches the safe. But just then Mal appears as a projection of Cobb's subconscious and shoots Fischer. Cobb shoots Mal, but it's too late. Cobb says it's all over - they've failed, because with Fischer dead, there is no way to implant the idea in his mind. But Ariadne says there's still a way: they must follow Fischer into limbo, implant the idea there, and then improvise a kick to get out. (1:51:22)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Cobb explains to Ariadne the truth behind Mal's death. When they were stuck in limbo before, Mal believed it was reality. To convince her otherwise, Cobb performed inception on her -- he broke into her safe, left her top spinning, and planted the idea in her mind that this world (limbo) was not real. Finally convinced, she laid on the train tracks with Cobb, and when they died, they woke up back in their house, but the idea Cobb planted stayed in her mind and came to possess her. (2:07:25)


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