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Inside Man (2006)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Genres:
Crime, Crime Drama, Master Criminal Films
Director:
Spike Lee Spike Lee
Starring:
Denzel Washington Denzel Washington
Clive Owen Clive Owen
Jodie Foster Jodie Foster
Christopher Plummer Christopher Plummer
Willem Dafoe Willem Dafoe

7.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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From a cell, a man tells us he has planned the perfect bank robbery; he invites us to watch. An efficient gang enters a Manhattan bank, locks the doors, and takes hostages. They work deliberately, without haste. Detective Frazier is assigned to negotiate, but half his mind is occupied with the corruption charges he is facing. The bank's president has something to protect in a safe deposit box, so he brings in Madeleine White, a high-power broker with a hidden agenda. With an army of police surrounding the bank, the thief, the cop, and the plutocrat's fixer enter high-stakes negotiations. Why are the robbers asking for a plane, if they are so competent and they know they won't get one? Why aren't they in more of a hurry? If the job's perfect, why is the thieves' leader in a cell? --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: March 28, 2006
Spike Lee has always been one of those 'hit or miss' directors. He has never been what you would call 'consistent' with the quality of his films. His career started off with a bang of back-to-back smashes, both commercially and critically - "She's Gotta Have It", "Do the Right Thing", "Jungle Fever", "Malcolm X". Then came the duds. Since "Malcolm X", his 'hit or miss' ratio has skyrocketed and we have been given classic wastes of time like "Clockers", "Girl 6", "He Got Game", "Bamboozled", and "She Hate Me". The rest of his films have just been mediocre, causing some people to question the credibility he was given so early in his career. I have never been one to really 'question' this credibility. You take one look at the film "Malcolm X" and you understand how amazing Spike Lee is as a director. His latest joint, "Inside Man", is the most un-Spike Lee movie he has yet to make - a heist film about a bank robbery and all of the levels involved in trying to keep the situation under control. There are some trademark Spike Lee antics throughout the film, but this would have to be his most complete film since "Malcolm X". It feels like a real movie.

Denzel Washington stars as Detective Keith Frazier. Things aren't going to well for Keith. He has been accused of stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from the department, his girlfriend might want to get married before he does, and he is desperate for a promotion at work. So, when he is asked, along with his partner (Chiwetel Ejiofor), to head-up a bank robbery in town, he jumps on the chance. The only problem is - this isn't your typical bank robbery. The head robber is Dalton Russell (Clive Owen), and we learn in the first scene that he has planned the 'perfect' bank robbery down to perfection. Jodie Foster co-stars as Madeline White, a 'fixer' who is hired by the president of the bank, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) to make sure certain valuables are not taken by the criminals during the robbery. The primary clash comes between Washington and Foster as they jockey for both position and information. Even Willem Dafoe pops up in a nothing role as Captain John Darius, a somewhat racist officer who believes in force over finesse. "Inside Man" exists to show you the bank robbery from the inside-out, and to keep you on a string as to what is really going on inside. As Washington's character states numerous times, "This ain't no bank robbery".

What Spike Lee does here is blend traditional heist genre clichés with original material that only he could add. I loved the continuous cuts to Washington and Ejiofor interrogating the hostages of the bank robbery - they added some needed humor and helped you figure out the complexities of the plot without having them smeared in your face. I also enjoyed the interactions between all of the characters, especially Washington and Foster - you almost wonder if they shouldn't be married, the way they argue. There is also a nice scene between Washington and Dafoe that is really more of a power struggle than anything else. It is Clive Owen, however, who steals the show yet again, though you rarely ever see his face. He is one of the finest actors working today and "Inside Man" is the perfect example of how varied his acting range can be. When the ending of the film rolls around, it is 'somewhat' unexpected, but for the most part, you have already seen it coming if you have been paying the slightest bit of attention. By the end, you don't really know if there is one true villain in the whole picture. Arguments could be made for Foster, Owen, or Plummer - but, in the grand scheme of things, are they any more wicked than anyone else in the film?

Any normal heist film would have been littered with B-movie faces, maybe even Tyrese and John Leguizamo. Spike Lee has the tendency to attract the best of the best, and that is certainly the case here with Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster, Oscar nominees Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer, and Willem Dafoe; and, up and comer Chiwetel Ejiofor. I suspect the only reason these actors signed on was to work with Spike Lee. That's great. It is amazing how much their powerful presences help the film. Denzel Washington is always at his best when working with Spike Lee, and this is no exception. I would dare say this is his most thoroughly enjoyable and most complete performance he has given in a long while, maybe since "Training Day". Jodie Foster looks like she's having more fun with this role than she's had in years, which is logical when you consider her last few projects and that she does have the most entertaining role in the picture. As mentioned earlier, Clive Owen is electric, as always, in his role, and Willem Dafoe and Christopher Plummer add their names, talents, and persona's to two very minimal roles for actors of such presence. So, in a nutshell, every single performance in this film is a winner, and so is "Inside Man".

The last time I remember being this fulfilled while watching a heist picture was actually "Heist", starring Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. It was another case of a phenomenal cast, an amazing director, and a premium pay-off. "Inside Man" was absolutely entertaining from beginning to end and will hopefully restore everyone's opinion of Spike Lee, especially since the film dominated the box office this weekend and put Larry the Cable Guy in his place. I don't really know how else to praise this film properly. Don't be waiting for some M. Night Shyamalan twist that is going to knock your socks off, because you will find yourself highly disappointed. Don't be waiting for a violent, bloody shoot-out, because this is not that kind of picture. "Inside Man" is a picture for people that think and people that appreciate film, and appreciate the talent it takes to make characters like these come to life. I loved "Inside Man". I thought it was one of Spike Lee's best films yet.

9/10.
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