Inside Man (2006)
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Review Date: April 30, 2006
Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Russell Gewirtz
Producers: Brian Grazer
Denzel Washington as Frazier
Jodie Foster as Madeleine
Clive Owen as Dalton
A New York City bank robbery quickly turns into a hostage negotiation situation with the bad guys forcing everyone inside the bank to dress like them (with masks), while the good guy negotiator outside, tries to figure out what exactly the baddies are up to. ďThis ainít no bank robbery!Ē says the negotiator, but it definitely is a film about bank robbery, so slap on your seatbelts and watch and listen closely.
The only reason that Iím not scoring this film a little higher is because I didnít ďget itĒ entirely. Pieces of the puzzle were left on the side of my table, and for that reason, I canít score the movie a better grade, since my little brain wasnít able to put it altogether cleanlyóor, the film simply had plot holes. Thatís not to say that it isnít a very good movie, because it certainly is, but Iíd like to watch it again someday so that I can totally understand all of its nooks and crannies, so that I can judge it according to the whole picture, coherent from start to finish. As I sit here now though, itís still an extremely well directed film, with what-seems-to-be yet another bank robbery plotline, but one that slowly but surely turns into something a lot deeper and cooler than that. In fact, even after the bank robbery segment of the film is finished, another half and hour or so, is dedicated to the unraveling of it all. All of the actors come to play with Denzel Washington and Chiwetel Ejiofor doing their part to legitimize themselves as do-good coppers, while folks like Christopher Plummer and Jodie Foster straddle the line between the light and the dark. I also dug Clive Owenís performance as the man behind the robbery, but at the same time, I canít say that any of them truly provided the film with an unforgettable performance. They did their jobs and they did it wellÖbut thatís about that on that (although poor Willem Dafoe was kinda wasted).

Director Spike Lee also makes sure to spice the joint up with his unique blend of camera shots, including an ode to Harvey Keitelís camera-walk from Scorseseís MEAN STREETS, humor, with one scene featuring a Sikh being mistaken for an Arab riding that line of racism and funny (ďGive me back my turban!Ē), as well as the use of flash-forwards, with a bunch of sequences that take place later on in the film, inserted throughout the action, just to give you a sense of where itís all headed. Iím not sure what the intent of the foreign music was to start the film off, but I appreciated the homages to the world as it stands today, including the terrorists angle and even a shot at videogame violence (Note how the characters in the game were both black). One of the things that makes this film click as it does, is its ability to keep you guessing throughout and you canít really ask for much more from a mystery thriller, especially one drenched in such a tired genre. The film isnít afraid to laugh at itself either, as one of the characters says to the other ďThatís not how it works, didnít you see DOG DAY AFTERNOON?Ēóa peak film of the genre. It also starts off with a bang and gets right into the bank with guns a smokiní and masks all around. I enjoyed this film from beginning to end and was never really bored at any point. It kept me guessing and I appreciated all of its characters and looked forward to what was going to happen to them next. Did the film blow my nuts off? Certainly not, but it entertained me on this stinky afternoon and many times, thatís exactly what one looks for from a motion picture crime drama. Job well done.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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