Inside Man  (2006)

I am far too impressionable when it comes to movies. "Inside Man" has me believing that I could legitimately rob a bank using the methods shown. The steps are laid out in such a way that I feel like I could make it work, and since I was able to view it from an outside perspective, I'm pretty sure I could come up with contingency plans to make up for any sort of logic/plot holes. The fact that I'm writing this makes everything pre-meditated, so forget I said it.

Clive Owen is the leader of a group of bank robbers who have planned the perfect crime. They invade a Manhattan bank dressed as painters, take a few dozen hostages, and set the pieces in motion. The crew seems to have taken every consideration to insure they will be successful. Hostages are forced to give up cell phones, they're dressed in identical jumpsuits and masks, randomly split into smaller groups, taken to individual rooms, moved from room to room without explanation. Everything is done to create a sense of chaos in the hostages' minds in order to make it harder for anyone to idenfity the robbers.

Denzel Washington plays the NYPD hostage negotiator. After running the first few plays in the book, he realizes that the crooks have the same book, and know what the cops plan to do with each step. He is forced to improvise to get as much information and develop a connection to the leader of the gang.

The movie's cast is fantastic. Denzel Washington nails the part of a cocky detective. Clive Owen's voice never wavers, perfectly fitting the calm cool and collected demeanor of a person who knows (or thinks) they are the smartest person in the room. Jodie Foster is great as a cold, calculating "fixer", an outside influence hired by the bank manager to make sure certain things do or do not happen.  Willem Dafoe is solid, as always, and Christopher Plummer is perfect in his supporting role.

My only gripe is that occasionally director Spike Lee just gets in his own way. There are some fantastic shots throughout the movie, great establishing moments, interesting camera movements. Then he goes and does some pointless thing that snaps me right out of the experience, whether it's an odd choice of cinematography or a mistimed joke or something. Most of the movie plays on a higher level, but there are those lapses that bring it down.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Inside Man" gets a 7 out of 10.


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