Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. By projecting himself deep into the subconscious of his targets, he can glean information that even the best computer hackers can’t get to. When Dom Cobb spins his spinning top in Inception, he does it to determine whether he’s awake or dreaming. In reality, the top eventually runs out of energy and falls over. In a dream, it has the potential to spin on forever, which tells him he’s dreaming.
In the 2010 film Inception, Dom Cobb leads a team of corporate spies who infiltrate the dreams of wealthy executives to extract company secrets (about emerging products, trading strategies, business data, etc.) for their competitors and give them a strategic advantage. They use “shared dreaming” to be able to enter a dreamer’s world and interact with the “reality” of the dream. Of course, the dreamer’s world is often bizarre, unpredictable, and nonlinear in nature! The rules of the “real world” don’t always apply, and often gravity, time, other properties of physics and rationality are warped and distorted. In order to be able to navigate this world, Dom Cobb and his “crew” must be able to deal with lack of predictability. In addition, there can be multiple layers of dreams (“dreams within a dream”) where time progresses more slowly in the “deeper” dreams that they do in the “upper” levels of dreaming. So, an hour in one dream would seem like minutes in another, etc. In the world of corporate espionage, Cobb is the ultimate weapon. But even weapons have their weakness, and when Cobb loses everything, he’s forced to embark on one final mission in a desperate quest for redemption.