Directed by: SPIKE LEE
Starring: DENZEL WASHINGTON,
CLIVE OWEN, JODIE FOSTER, CHIWETEL EJIOFOR, CHRISTOPHER
PLUMMER, WILLEM DAFOE
Released by: Universal Pictures
Short: Director Spike Lee's deft hand, top-notch
cast, and crisply plotted script combine to
create a classy crime thriller.
Tries His Hand at Suspense—and Delivers
"Inside Man," director Spike Lee has fashioned
a practically perfect crime caper.
From the striking opening shot to the cleverly satisfying
finale, Lee shifts gears away from his often polemic filmmaking
style, this time concocting an exciting tale that dips
deftly into the Hitchcock legacy, adds a soupcon of Lumet
(think "Dog Day Afternoon"), and results in
a movie that keeps viewers constantly guessing, gasping,
and often chuckling as well.
seemingly all about a robbery gone wrong, as Dalton Russell
(Clive Owen) and his criminal crew enter a venerable old
Wall Street bank and end up holding a large group of patrons
and employees hostage. Enter New York City detective (and
hostage negotiator) Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington),
and the classic cat-and-mouse game begins. As robber and
detective go toe to toe, back and forth in negotiating
the safe release of the hostages, the plot thickens as
other elements begin to surface.
the patrician bank owner (Christopher Plummer), concerned
more about his property than the people held inside; a
sleek fixer (Jodie Foster), whose machinations behind
the scenes reveal bigger things at stake than just the
cold cash in the vault; and even the city's mayor, who
gets drawn reluctantly into the ever-widening ripples
caused by the robbery.
keeps the action crisp, as the two-hour-plus film seems
to fly by. The ride Lee creates is a deftly structured
mystery that is enhanced by memorable performances from
all concerned. Washington's brash, quintessentially New
York detective is a real departure for the actor, as is
Foster's cold-as-ice behind-the-scenes manipulator; both
give fine, believable turns. But it is Clive Owen who
really shines (despite playing much of his role behind
a face-covering mask) as the criminal who plans out a
multi-leveled, complex crime and then disappears as the
cops close in.
Man" is the best sort of Hollywood thriller, with
nary a misstep, a movie that keeps viewers guessing from
start to finish.