Anthony's Film Review

Inside Man (2006)

Solid dialogue and an ingenious plot make this cat-and-mouse caper worth seeing...

Inside Man has a clever script, a memorable cast, and an experienced director at the helm. Spike Lee directs a crime thriller that stars Denzel Washington as New York detective and hostage negotiator Keith Frazier, Clive Owen as mastermind bank robber Dalton Russell, Jodie Foster as broker Madeleine White, Christopher Plummer as bank chairman Arthur Case, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Keith's detective partner Bill Mitchell. All of these people make the film work as a thrilling heist picture and, in a way, a homage to Dog Day Afternoon, a similar type of movie from 1975.

In the first several minutes, the film delivers the thrilling setup. Dalton Russell leads a gang disguised as painters into a large bank and proceed to take everyone hostage. The police are called to the scene with Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell coming along to assist. As the crisis intensifies, the robbers carry out additional steps in their carefully planned operation. That includes forcing the hostages to put on the same outfits as the robbers, for later use as innocent decoys.

What follows for the next hour of the film is not an action-packed cat-and-mouse chase but rather a dramatic cat-and-mouse standoff with the players on opposite sides of a mousehole. The pacing may not be quick, but it still moves in the right direction. Dialogue, not action, is what carries the story forward. There are engrossing scenes with Keith Frazier and the police discussing and executing their next move, which alternate with scenes of the robbers handling their terrified hostages. At this point, I should mention that, despite her top casting credit, Jodie Foster's screen time is only about one-third as much as that of Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. Even so, her character and Christopher Plummer's character do play an important and rather interesting role in this caper.

Besides this hour of crisp dialogue and solid performances, the other great thing about the movie is the last half hour. The finale reveals that this is not your standard bank robbery and that there is much more going on underneath the surface. It's the kind that makes you wonder what the story is really about. It can even make you change your perspective about the characters and the plot you've just seen. Basically, this last part is the most important segment, because it tells you the whole purpose of the events in the movie.

With great attention given to every segment, Inside Man is a smart and engaging movie from start to finish. I enjoyed everyone's on-screen performance and felt that each character really came alive. I give extra kudos to Spike Lee, a director who manages to hold the film together as one. Thanks to him and everyone else involved, Inside Man brings the caper film to new heights.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Inside Man, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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