'Inside Man' Review By the MovieGhost

Fact is, all lies, all evil deeds, they stink. You can cover them up for a while, but they don't go away.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
As I was watching "Inside Man" just a few hours ago, I knew the above line from Clive Owen's character reminded me of a similar quote made by someone who some would argue never really died. I'm not here to argue that, because frankly that's something I don't think will ever go away. The quote in question is, "Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away." The who is Elvis Presley. Now, much like this movie, it has been some time since I first heard, or read, that quote, but despite that, it is no less true than it was the day I first came across it.


At the beginning of "Inside Man" we meet Dalton Russell (Clive Owen). Dalton tells us about his apparent plight, musing about the differences between a cell and a prison. Shortly after that, he discloses to us his plan for the "perfect" bank robbery and invites us to take part.

A group of bank robbers, under the guises of painters, enter a bank and systematically disable the security cameras, secure all exits, and round up every last person inside the building, taking them as hostages. Detectives Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are assigned the case and brought up to speed by Captain John Darius (Willem Dafoe). Soon after their arrival, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer), chairman of the board of directors and founder of the bank, is informed of the robbery and hires "fixer" Madeleine White (Jodie Foster) to protect the contents of his safety deposit box at all costs. Before long, the "perfect" heist spirals into a tense hostage negotiation in which the robbers appear to always be one step ahead of Detective Frazier and the police, and the supposed intention of the heist isn't what it appears to be.

If you would have asked me six years ago what Spike Lee's new Crime/Drama film was about, I couldn't have told you a thing about it. Mainly because I had absolutely no idea who Spike Lee was, what kind of movies he made, and that I was fourteen and much more concerned with what was going on in my day-to-day. However, if you were to ask me that same question today, I would be able to tell you that, while obviously nowhere near as new, "Inside Man" is a wonderfully paced and fascinating Crime/Drama with an ensemble of a cast and an interesting third act twist that you should definitely check out, if that sounded like your type of movie.

As I sat down to watch this movie, I had a vague recollection of what it was about. The last time I'd seen anything in relation to it, I think some television network was running it one late afternoon. But, as most would obviously do, the majority of the language was dubbed over or taken out and a handful of scenes were removed altogether. And while I can appreciate and respect the intentions for a younger viewing audience, why children would be watching a rated R movie or why their parents would let them watch it is beyond me, when television networks do such things it takes away from the overall effect of that movie. Am I saying that there should be amounts of swearing, nudity, and violence in abundance in every movie like this? Not at all. What I am saying is that if those things serve the story that is being told in that movie, and isn't tossed in for simple shock value, then I see no issue with it. But if you're a parent, or babysitter, please restrain what the child/children you have see.

Unlike some of the previous movies I've reviewed here, "Inside Man" didn't attract my attention through an eye-catching trailer or memorable trailer music. In fact, if I hadn't seen it on TV one afternoon this would have most likely passed right over me. But I'm glad it didn't. Upon viewing it again... scratch that... after viewing it for the first time, I've found that "Inside Man" is a refreshing change of pace for movies of this genre, or sub-genre. Most heist movies follow a simple formula: Robbers rob the bank with no serious plan in order, cops try to stop them, hostages are taken (and maybe killed), and ultimately the robbers are killed due to their greed.

That isn't the case with this movie. Granted, Director Spike Lee did indeed follow most of the set plot points, but thankfully he didn't stick with the formulaic ending. I won't be the person to spoil that ending for you, as I've done with my previous reviews, but I do suggest that you put this movie on your Netflix, RedBox, or whatever other DVD rental service you use. I think you'll enjoy what "Inside Man" has to offer.

The part of Dalton Russell's band of robbers that I enjoyed the most was the way they interacted with their hostages. They didn't lay everyone down and wantonly put a bullet in the backs of their heads or scream and shout at them just because they could (which, now that I think about that again, that might've been the case, hah), Russell and his gang brought them in to his overall plan. Obviously he didn't sit them all down and say, "Okay, here's my plan," but he/they treated them much differently. Instead of keeping them locked away in different rooms, not bothering to check in every so often, Russell, for lack of a better word, smuggled them in with the hostages. There was one scene, SPOILERS(?), where Russell and a young boy were enjoying a couple pieces of pizza and upon further looking into what the boy was playing on his PSP, acted almost like a concerned parent. When was the last time you saw something like that happen in a movie like this?

Another thing I really enjoyed were the scenes of interaction between the NYPD and the bank hostages. The intercut questioning scenes were a nice touch, although some of them were a tad too dark for my liking. Perhaps that was Lee's intention. The other more noteworthy occurrence was the scene when bank employee Vikram Walia was sent out. Maybe not so much nowadays, but two to three, maybe even four years ago, that type of thing happening wouldn't be too far fetched. It was nice to see that level of realism be brought in to this movie. As opposed to every other movie in this vein that simply glazes over those happenings or doesn't even mention them at all.

As I look back on what I've typed for this review I find myself surprised, to a degree. Why? Because when I sat down in front of my Macbook Pro I hadn't the foggiest idea of how I was going to start this review, let alone type it out in full.

At the risk of sounding redundant, if you're a fan of Crime/Drama films, or Heist films in general, and you haven't seen "Inside Man" go ahead and give it a watch.

This was a review by tMG. Thank you for reading.

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Comments (25)

  1. Nicholaus XX

    @the-movieghost -- Probably not. But, there's always an exception.

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @the-movieghost I am slowly getting there... The school is kicking my ass right now... I am greatly looking forward to Thanksgiving break!!!

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  3. the MovieGhost

    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Once you watch it, do you think you'll do a review of it?

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  4. Nicholaus XX

    @the-movieghost -- Same here. But, based on the IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes score, it seems like it'll be a great movie.

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  5. the MovieGhost

    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx I haven't heard much about "In Bruges", other than it stars Colin Farrel.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  6. Nicholaus XX

    @Zak-Lee-Ferguson -- I always get that kind of reaction when I tell people that. I've seen the beginning, and two or three other scenes a couple of times, but that's it.

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  7. Zak Lee Ferguson

    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx have never seen Pulp Fiction? :o

    2 years agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  8. Nicholaus XX

    @the-movieghost -- Nope, not yet. I'm going to try to rent "Moonrise Kingdom", "Pulp Fiction", and maybe "In Bruges". After that, I might give this one a try.

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  9. the MovieGhost

    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Have you been able to see it yet? If not, I'd definitely recommend it. Especially if you're a fan of something different, like I was.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  10. Nicholaus XX

    @the-movieghost -- Nice review, man. I wanted to see this one ever since I was a kid.

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  11. the MovieGhost

    @Zak-Lee-Ferguson That would be incredible! Thanks for the read!

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  12. Zak Lee Ferguson

    official staple alert- a grandeur read my sir!

    2 years agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  13. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    @the-movieghost Ha! Yeah, Owen is one of my favorite actors.

    2 years agoby @cryptFlag

  14. the MovieGhost

    @mcleve02 Well I very much appreciate it! It's great to see you back in action.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag


    @the-movieghost Nice review dude... I got on today just for you! I am seriously way behind on all my posts!

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  16. the MovieGhost

    @crypt@john-m Thanks guys! Oh and 'Bomber, I'll have you know that I can't look at Clive Owen now and not associate you with his face.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  17. John M

    Good review. I really liked the film. It was a different kind of heist film, and Clive Owens performance was great.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  18. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    Great review. I enjoyed this movie a lot as well.

    2 years agoby @cryptFlag

  19. the MovieGhost

    @skywise Oh wow, thanks a lot man. I've been wanting/planning on doing both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, since I did TDKR way back in July, but I always get side-tracked. Hopefully, depending on the rest of the night tonight, I may be able to knock out BB today too.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  20. skywise

    @the-movieghost By that I meant that your on fire lately. keep em coming. I rnjoy your reviews.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  21. the MovieGhost

    @skywise Thanks 'Wise. I'm happy to see that I'm progressing along as a reviewer. Back when I did TDKR, I was doing it just to do it. Now I'm actually really enjoying it. Oh and what did you mean by the " hot hot hot" thing? I'm not following xD

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  22. skywise

    @narrator Fantastic review. Is it must me or it hot hot hot?

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  23. the MovieGhost

    @narrator I am too, now that I can appreciate what it was trying to do and the level of difference it had. Thank you much by the way. I was more worried about overusing the "Crime/Drama" term.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  24. the Narrator

    I'm glad that you caught this on the tele, @the-movieghost. It seemed we both admired how different Clive Owen's character Russell was to the typical bank robber. As you pointed out, when was the last we saw a character like him in this particular genre acting so concerned over a kid's future while robbing a bank? The ingenuity of the plan, the dialogue in the film, and Russell's overall morally supported but financially driven conscience is what really sold this film. Glad you enjoyed it, and nice review (it didn't seem redundant to me, so no worries there).

    2 years agoby @narratorFlag