In Inception, Saito hires the extraction team to plant an idea or achieve "inception" into the mind of a CEO.

The team consists of trained specialists who each perform a particular task. Saito is also a member of the team, but I couldn't understand what purpose that Saito served on the team and why he even needed to be there during the actual job.

I understand that Saito employed the team of specialists, but I don't understand what other purpose he served as a member of the team.

I admittedly have a difficult time following movies like this and I fear that I may have missed this plot detail.

Why did Saito accompany the team during the inception job?

  • 10
    Because the Producer is involved in making a movie. Nov 6, 2017 at 23:44
  • 2
    @EricTowers a distilled version of that article would make an excellent answer
    – DForck42
    Nov 7, 2017 at 2:46
  • @EricTowers But that article literally writes: "Arthur is the producer."
    – wim
    Nov 9, 2017 at 4:28

4 Answers 4


Saito wanted to be present to ensure that the job went his way and that the team was successful. Having already experienced a failed attempt at information theft (when Cobb and co tried to steal information from him), Saito wanted to put every little thing into his favor, and the best way to do that was to be present at every step.

A good example of this is during the planning phase:


On a 747 the pilots are up above, first class is in the nose so nobody walks through the cabin. We'd have to buyout the whole cabin, and the first class flight attendant-


We bought the airline.

Everyone turns to Saito.


It seemed... neater.


Neater, huh? (gets to his feet) Well, now we have ten uninterrupted hours.

Also, Saito is the key for Cobb to enter the US without getting arrested. When Cobb's wife killed herself, she thought they were still in the dream, and she wanted Cobb to join her. As such she set it up so that it looked like Cobb killed her, hoping that he'd kill himself to follow her. He is still a person of interest in his wife's death:


If I get on this plane and you haven't taken care of things... when we land I go to jail for the rest of my life.


Complete the job en route, I make one phone call from the plane... you will have no trouble clearing immigration.


If Saito wasn't on the plane when the plan completed, there's a chance he might not have had enough time for Cobb to call him, tell him the job is done, and then for Saito to call his contacts. Again, being in person was the most sure way to hold up his end of the bargain.


The other answers here are correct, but they are missing a key quote that is a direct answer to your question.

YUSUF: A powerful sedative. How many team members?

COBB: Five.

SAITO: Six. The only way to know you've done the job is if I go in with you.

The "loot" from this job was not an obvious, easily provable thing like a password or a secret corporate strategy. If Saito were not with them on the job, nothing would stop Cobb from doing absolutely nothing and then telling him it was done. The results, Fischer breaking up the company, would not be seen immediately. And even then, it's possible that the job could fail and Fischer would still break up the company, or vice-versa.

Being present for both the planning and the execution is the only way that Saito could know that anything was actually done.

  • Not only that, but they could successfully implant the thought, but external events after the job might alter the outcome so it would appear it wasn't successful. The job was implanting the thought - the hope was a certain outcome, but the job was done once the thought was implanted. So it was useful for both sides to see the job completed.
    – Adam Davis
    Nov 9, 2017 at 13:08
  • @AdamDavis That's what I meant by "or vice-versa"; that they could succeed in the job and still not get the desired outcome.
    – GendoIkari
    Nov 9, 2017 at 14:24

My take on this is quite simple.

He's hiring a team to encourage a competitor to walk away from competing with his company. This is an illegal activity and as a result involves hiring a team that he personally knows little about, or whether to trust them.

Because this is illegal, he has no recourse to the legal system if Cobb breaks his agreement, and this could end up with him personally being held liable. As a result he feels he needs to be personally involved to make sure it is done correctly. He also thinks (incorrectly) that since its just a dream there is no danger for him.

Saito is also the head of a large corporation, he is not at all lacking in confidence in his own abilities. He probably thinks that while he may not be an expert, he can 'hold his own' alongside them and not damage the mission while keeping an eye on it.


Saito is there to keep an eye on his investment, the job has almost incalcuable stakes for him with what hobbling his biggest competitor could do for his company's future and bearing in mind try that Cobb has already tried to run from him once and didn't exactly volunteer for this job a little supervision is probably a sensible idea

Also given the alleged near impossibility of carrying out inception making sure Cobb is actually doing what he promised rather than just saying what Saito wanted to hear to save his own skin isn't a bad idea either.

The way it is set up with the job being done en-route to the states means that he is on hand to either see Cobb succeed and get him through US immigration or if he fails he can throw him to the wolves just as easily. Much less hassle then having to chase him down again to kill him.

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