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
In the tense thriller Inside Man
, a bank robbery leads to a number of people being taken hostage and its up to NYPD hostage negotiators Detectives Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell to secure their release. The detectives are sent to the scene with orders to contact the ringleader of the gang, Dalton Russell (Clive Owen, Sin City
), and ensure the release of the 50 bank staff and patrons taken hostage. However, things fail to progress as smoothly as the duo had hoped, with Russell proving to be an intelligent and calm operator that is able to stay one step ahead of the police. The situation is further complicated when power player Madeline White (Jodie Foster, Panic Room
) requests a meeting with Russell. Acclaimed director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X
) stamps his own individual mark on the action thriller genre--a genre that he doesnt normally work in--with Inside Man
, a film full of smart twists, snappy dialogue, and interesting character developments. However, the reoccurring theme of ethnic politics displayed in Lees previous work is once again prevalent and he once again decides to use New York as the backdrop for the action. Lee manages to turn what could have been a standard thriller into a stylish, kinetic and ultra-sharp film. Denzel Washington (Training Day
) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots
) produce sterling performances as the two detectives attempting to control the volatile situation, while the film also greatly benefits from the skills of Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, and Willem Defoe (Spider-Man
). The dense, multi-layered, yet always entertaining plot combined with Lees adrenaline-fuelled style makes for a superb and breath-taking film.