Inside Man

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Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer
Director: Spike Lee

INSIDE MAN is a gripping thriller about a bank robbery with a difference. Spike Lee has mixed his own funky style of direction with a stellar cast including Denzel Washington as a struggling newly promoted detective, Clive Owen as his nemesis and Jodie Foster as a mysterious Manhattan power broker.

When Washington’s hostage negotiator, Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington), gets called out with his partner Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to attend a bank robbery in progress, Frazier knows this is a big moment in his career trajectory. Cunning criminal mastermind Dalton Russell (Owen) has gone in with his gang of bank robbers dressed as painters and stormed the Manhattan Trust Bank, where he is holding roughly 50 hostages inside. A stand-off between negotiator and mastermind begins, and it soon becomes apparent that Russell is no ordinary bank robber, and what’s more he seems well able to outwit Frazier’s decent detective stance. He seems content to sit and wait. But what exactly is he waiting for? Precisely what motives does he have in mind?

The mystery deepens when Madeleine White (Foster) appears on the scene. A tough lady, she has made her money making the dirty laundry of the rich disappear. Whose mess is she clearing up this time?

The film has a great pulse to it, thanks to Terence Blanchard’s pumping score and the quality of the acting. It’s a very American production but is never less than interesting and commands the audience’s attention. It’s not without flaws – Russell’s only motive for doing the robbery seems to be “because he can” – and only extreme vanity would make an intelligent man keep possession of something so dangerous that he could easily have disposed of.

The film builds the tension up so successfully that I couldn’t help feeling a bit let down at the end, but this is a film intended to be an amusement rather than to be analysed for its grounding in reality. The majority of people will really enjoy this.

5 out of 6 stars