Inside Man (2006)

Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Russell Gewirtz
Starring: Clive Owen, Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christopher Plummer, Jodie Foster and Willem Dafoe

I love a good heist movie.  What makes them good, to me, is the way they suck me in to the point where I forget to guess at the ending and slight anachronisms don’t pull me out of the story.  Such is the case with this character-driven, crime drama directed by Spike Lee.  The bank heist is mostly interesting because of the characters involved:  Clive Owen’s robber oozes intelligence and cool even under a mask;  Denzel Washington plays the grasping detective to perfection;  and Jodie Foster plays the type of arrogant, corrupt, problem-solver with such confidence that I felt she had to be real.

Roger Ebert pointed out  the many red herrings that detracted from the movie in his unfavourable review.   Unlike him, I enjoyed being thrown into it in medias res and was satisfied to have the plot and characters unfold in a contained situation. I didn’t need every character’s back-story to understand their roles and Lee’s social commentary added that extra layer to the film that a more developed plot wouldn’t have accomplished.

What I liked: The robbery is calculated and intelligent enough to keep the audience guessing but, unlike most heist movies, is not the main focus of the story; Lee stamps this picture with his own social commentary that is preaching but not pedantic, which adds a layer of depth to every character that appears on screen; It’s hard not to enjoy Clive as a charming bad-ass and an understated Denzel who carries the audience with him.  It’s one of those gems where you can’t help but root for both cop and robber.

What I didn’t like: Some of Lee’s social commentary seems inserted rather than flowing, yet I still enjoyed it.  Foster, at times, was too smug for me to appreciate her presence on screen.

My rating: Worth watching more than once.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
IMDB: 7.7

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