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Inside Man (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

Inside Man


Starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer, Willem Defoe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Carlos Andrés Gómez, Kim Director, James Ransone, Bernie Rachelle, Peter Gerety, Victor Collochio, Cassandra Freeman, Peter Frechette and Gerry Vichi.

Screenplay by Russell Gewirtz.

Directed by Spike Lee.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  129 minutes.  Rated R.

While it is probably not in Spike Lee’s DNA to make a commercial blockbuster, you can’t begrudge him the urge to make a film that more people will see.  Lee is too stubbornly quirky to totally sell out his values, though.

Despite an all-star cast and a clever action movie plot line, Inside Man is nothing like most current blockbusters coming from Hollywood.  If anything, it seems like a film that would have clicked in the grittier, more experimental motion picture landscape of the mid-1970s.  It’s really an update of the classic hostage dramas of the period like Dog Day Afternoon and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.

The film knows and acknowledges its predecessors.  Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and even Kojak (a TV series whose pilot episode also features a police stand-off with armed robbers) are all referred to by name in the script.

This blatant recognition of its past somehow makes the film more likable, though.  Most films that are somewhat derivative would be horrified to show their sources.  Inside Man makes it a homage to this style.

And style is something that Inside Man does not lack.  It has it in spades — more than it has substance.  Not that the heist story isn’t interesting or suspenseful.  It’s just that the more that we know about what is happening, the less it makes sense.  Eventually it feels more like an exercise than a story.  It is a very well-done exercise, though.  (3/06)

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2006  All rights reserved.  Posted: April 6, 2006.

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