It looked like the perfect bank robbery. But you can’t judge a crime by its cover.
Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) is a man of few words. But when he does speak, pay close attention to what he says because he chooses his words carefully and never repeats himself. When the movie opens, Russell claims to have planned the perfect bank robbery. He and his goons walk into the Manhattan Trust Bank disguised as painters, take all employees and customers hostage, empty a mysterious safe deposit box but not the bank’s vault and declare to simply walk out of the bank once the job is done. Detectives Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor), as well as Captain John Darius (Willem Dafoe) are called to the crime scene and try to master the situation but cannot make sense of what is going on inside the bank. When suddenly the dubious owner of the bank (Christopher Plummer) as well as bitchy playmaker Madeline White (Jodie Foster), get preoccupied with getting an item of a high personal value out of the bank, things start to get really weird.
Spike Lee’s latest joint is very different from his earlier work to say the least. After Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing or She Hate Me, Lee ventures into new cinematic territory, something we like to call the ‘mainstream’. Opting for a commercial success with a rock-solid genre film and one hell of a cast (unfortunately Jodie Foster is underused), Inside Man is what thriller and heist movie fans alike have been waiting for. In the end, it is not the movie’s twists and turns that keep you wanting more (because unfortunately they are not as original as one might think), but rather the perfect cast ensemble giving incredibly spot-on performances as well as some slick camera work from director Spike Lee himself. Even if the story doesn’t win you over, the great dialogues, the deliberately politically incorrect ‘color comments’ and the welcome lack of plot holes that seem to plague the thriller genre lately, more than make up for a script that can be seen through if you indeed pay close attention. Inside word has it that Spike Lee will be rewarded for playing it straight this time. (3 out of 4 shitholes)
Inside Man is rated R for lots of bad words.