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Denzel Washington
as Keith Frazier

Clive Owen
as Dalton Russell

Jodie Foster
as Madeliene White

Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Det. Bill Mitchell

Willem Dafoe
as Captain Darius

Christopher Plummer
as Arnold Case

Written by Russell Gewirtz

Directed by Spike Lee

Running Time: 2:09

Rated R
for language and some violent images.



Inside Man was a very entertaining film filled with mystery and a surprisingly large amount of laughs.


Dalton Russell wants to rob a bank. Why? Because he can. He and his group enter a bank on Wall Street in New York City and proceed to lock it down and take hostages. Detective Frazier of the NYPD is in charge of the negotiations. Madeliene White is hired by the Chief Executive of the bank, Mr. Case, to make sure that Dalton doesn't find a secret Case has buried within the safety deposit boxes. Soon, Frazier starts to think that maybe this isn't a real bank robbery, and somewhere, someone knows more than they're letting on.


After watching Inside Man you realize that the title itself is a twist you don't see coming. There are two portions to this movie. What happens, and why it happens. Let's start with the what happens part. The movie starts with Dalton explaining to you what has already taken place. This immediately gives you a frame of reference which may or may not be true. We then go straight into the beginning of the bank robbery. There isn't a lot of time for set-up in the film; you go right into the middle of the madness. Once the bank is secured, a cop happens by and he calls for backup. From there we get into a good, old fashioned stand off. We get to see both points of view. Dalton and his crooks inside, seemingly bypassing the money that's right in front of them, and Frazier on the outside, trying to juggle his career and outsiders wanting to be on the inside. It's a true game of cat and mouse, only you're not sure who is playing whom. You know from the previews, which show Frazier screaming "This ain't no bank robbery!" that, well, this ain't no ordinary bank robbery. But the movie is written and directed well enough that you're always wondering what is really happening, and how it was all pulled off. Spike Lee makes an interesting choice by jumping into the future to show interviews with the hostages talking about what happened in the bank. It takes a couple of those jumps to make you start to think about what's happening during the robbery and that's when you really start to get into the film. It's hard to spend over two hours where technically not a lot is happening, and make it feel alive and exciting, but Spike managed to do it in what is easily his most accessible film to date.

Then there is the, why the movie happens. You know this isn't a normal bank robbery, so the next question is, well then, what is it? I won't discuss that except to say that some people may be disappointed with the ultimate reasoning behind the robbery. How they pulled it off is impressive, but why they pulled it off isn't. There were a lot of unanswered questions, even though the movie went on for another 20 minutes after the robbery ended. Jodie Foster's character played a very small role in the film, which surprised me considering how huge a star she is and how few roles she takes on these days. In the end, there was nothing so special about her character that someone else couldn't have played it. Denzel was in fine form as his take-charge self. Clive Owen was on point as the leader of the robbery crew. Having a criminal with a British accent is always a good idea, since most of the time it makes the criminal seem smarter than your average New York cop (at least in the movies.) Put all three of those actors together with Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe and you've got yourself a pretty heady cast. Add in Spike Lee as your director, and you've got an 'event' film in the making. I think, however, that the possible downfall of the movie is the reveal of the why, and the extra 20 minutes tacked on to the end. A tighter story, a more reasonable reason for the why, would have made this a great film. As it is, it's a very good film. And really, how can I not love a movie that uses an old Bollywood song over its opening AND closing credits?


So overall, I enjoyed Inside Man. If you can look past the ultimate reason for why everything happened, or, if you actually like the reasoning, then you'll really like the movie. If not, it's still worth seeing because Spike Lee has finally made a film that can appeal to everyone.

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King Kong
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$24.76 DVD
reviewed 03/21/06

© 2006 Wolfpack Productions

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