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Movie Review – Inside Man

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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.

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About Triniman

Almost weekly, Triniman catches new movies, and adds one or two CDs to his collection. Due to time constraints, he blogs about only 5% of the CDs, books and DVDs that he purchases. Holed up in the geographic centre of North America, the cultural mecca of Canada, and the sunniest city north of the 49th, Winnipeg, Triniman blogs a bit when he's not swatting mosquitoes, shoveling snow or golfing.
  • Okay, I’m a bit lost. This movie got an 89% on the tomatometer (which is higher than Brokeback Mountain AND Crash by the way), I saw it last night…and it sucked so bad. Were the critics just nice to it because it’s Spike, Denzel, and Jodie? I’m really confused.

  • All the more reason why you can’t assume the critics will see things the same way you do. Yes, I would guess they were wowed by the fact it has big names involved. However, big names alone do not make for an excellent film. Wait for others to weigh in with their opinions and you will see some people describing this film as excellent and one of the best of the year, so far. Opinons will vary, for sure.

  • -sigh- I guess movies have gotten to a point where you have to start calling the mediocre ones excellent, since the truly excellent are so far and few. Lord help us.

  • I just saw this last night and was disappointed. You hit the nail on the head, Triniman….I think this movie had the potential to be good, but was just poorly done. What a shame for all the big names invovled.

  • Thanks, Chantal.

    If youre looking for an excellent film, try The Best of Youth, from Italy, but available in North America.