An intelligent thriller with a healthy few twists up its sleeve, The Inside Man
marks strong, although hardly career-best, work from all concerned.
The plot is simple, and hardly fresh. On one side, you have a sophisticated team who walk into a bank, take everyone hostage and issue demands. On the other, you have a team of cops trying to apprehend those responsible and get the hostages out safely. In the middle, you have the owner of the bank, who's willing to bring in a bit of extra help to get the situation resolved. And yet what could have been a standard two-dimensional Hollywood blockbuster gets brains and substance thanks to those in front of and behind the camera.
The talent in front is led by a consummate Denzel Washington, as the cop leading the situation. Then there's the increasingly impressive Clive Owen and the always-excellent Jodie Foster, with sterling support from the likes of Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe.
Behind the camera, much has been made of the fact that this is the least Spike Lee-like film that Spike Lee has directed, yet that misses the point. The Inside Man sees a skilful, diligent and clever director utterly comfortable with what's going on, and wringing out plenty from the simple premise.
It's not a flawless film by any means: the last reel doesn't quite match up to what preceded it, and the script doesn't really get you near the skin of the characters (even if it does serve up some delicious, not entirely expected moments). Yet as heist movies go, this is one of the better examples of recent times, with plenty of reasons to recommend it. --Simon Brew
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