Given that Inside Man is a Spike Lee production, it just couldn’t be a straight-ahead heist film. And it isn’t.
The hostages change into the same outfits that the bad guys are wearing, thus making them all look alike. You see flash forward interviews of the hostages in police custody, with the cops trying to trip them up to figure out who the thieves are.
The acting is fine all around, but there are no knockout performances that will be remembered at Oscar nomination time. Christopher Plummer plays the paranoid bank president, with a deep, dark secret to hide. He enlists the help of a mysterious power broker, played by Jodie Foster, to protect his secret. You just don’t get a sense that her character really had a chance to exercise her power and thus give us more insight into who she is and what she can do.
Clive Owen seems cool, calm, and in control as the lead bad guy. There are clues throughout the film about how things will unfold with this character, but you’re supposed to just mentally file them away since they don’t give you any “a-ha” moments when you see them. If you see something that doesn’t seem to add to the story, pay attention.
The dialogue contains references to race relations — always a Spike Lee favorite. If you’re expecting fast-paced action, you’ll be disappointed. Does it deliver as a smart “conspiracy” film? Heil, no!
Inside Man is supposed to be more about a morally bankrupt past than it is about a bank robbery. However, I found this film to be underwhelming and unsatisfying. It tries to be a clever story, but it wasn’t sharp enough for me. It lacks a really meaty story. The film tries to appeal to your head by being an intelligent thriller, but Lee forgot to add the “thriller” part. By the way, you’ll know you’re watching a Spike Lee film when you see Denzel Washington’s character running down the street when, in reality, he’s just standing on a rapidly moving platform. Lee has used this idea in some of his previous films.
Inside Man stars Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, and Christopher Plummer.
I rate this film 2.5/5.