Fact is, all lies, all evil deeds, they stink. You can cover them up for a while, but they don't go away.
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.