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In a not-too-distant future, no one's secrets are safe, not even those buried in the deepest recesses of their minds: High-tech "extraction" technology allows teams of spies-for-hire to manipulate the dreams of others, creeping around their thoughts and riffling through their subconscious minds. Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best in the business---good enough that even former victims like corporate hotshot Saito (Ken Watanabe) turn to him when they need someone to do the impossible.
Saito is in a position to offer Cobb the one thing he wants most in the world: a way home. Saito's connections can erase the murder charge that forced Cobb to flee his country and abandon his children to the care of their grandfather (Michael Caine), and all he has to do in return is get inside the head of Richard Fischer (Cillian Murphy), heir to a multinational empire, and plant the idea to dismantle it so deep that Fischer will believe he thought of It all by himself.
Conventional wisdom has it that mental capital only flows one way You can dig it out, but you can't sneak It in. Cobb knows otherwise and assembles a team willing to do the mindwarp with him: chameleon Earnes (Tom Hardy), who can assume any identity within a dream; chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), whose concoctions facilitate deep, prolonged sleep; architect Ariadne (Ellen Page), who imagines every physical detail of the dream world; and point-man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who sweats whatever details need sweating.
The only newbie in the bunch, Ariadne quickly realizes what the others don't: that the persistent dream presence of Cobb's late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard)--whom he was accused of killing---isn't just a pesky sign of lingering grief. It's a giant, flashing-neon warning that Cobb is on the fast track to a full-blown mental meltdown.
BBC Newsnight. (2015, October 16). Christopher Nolan: The full interview - Newsnight [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtH6kiPbMBw