Inside Man (2006) Director Spike Lee

Clive Owen chats to the cops. Image from:

Jodie Foster does a great Sue White impression…and charms Denzel Washington
With thanks to:

Inside Man (2006)
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Defoe, Christopher Plummer

This was on Sky recently. Which is good, because last year I had free tickets to see this in Portsmouth’s little Odeon, and the film died on them, along with the projector, after 15 minutes. We continued watching it without sound until someone came to say what had happened. So eventually we left, but it did mean I had tickets to use later, which I did – for Pan’s Labyrinth!

So I was pretty curious to see what I had missed, although not enough to spend any actual cash on a DVD. Eventually it turned up on Sky Movies Premiere. So here’s what I thought of it.

Robbers invade a New York bank to pull off the perfect heist. It becomes a hostage situation, and the police are called, but nothing is quite how it looks. Clive Owen introduces the film with a straight-to-camera headshot, doing his normal darkly dour acting.

My name is Dalton Russell. Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose
my words carefully and I never repeat myself. I’ve told you my name: that’s the
Who. The Where could most readily be described as a prison cell. But there’s a
vast difference between being stuck in a tiny cell and being in prison…

He is the highly organised leader of the gang, which is after more than just cash or gold. They want the contents of a security deposit box inside the safe, and will do anything to make sure they get it and get safely out again.

When the bank raid starts, Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) is called in to oversee negotiations with the robbers. He soon finds that making sense out of the robbers’ demands is not going to be straightforward. His attempt to unravel the true demands of the robbers are the crux of the movie, and some great performances keep everything interesing.

The plot also encapsulates Jodie Foster’s charismatic ‘fixer’ Madeline White. She knows everyone and can organise anything. She also, appropriately, behaves a lot like Sue White from Green Wing. It’s something in her excessively cheery manner, while her eyes just look dangerous. She’s hired by Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) who owns the bank, although he knows full well that she’s not to be underestimated. She adds sparks to an already flammable situation.

The unfolding story is easy to follow, has smart characters that keep you interested, and uses its inevitable twist just enough, so you don’t want to throttle the filmmakers – Shylaman style. It’s a great, old-fashioned piece of storytelling. Even the little characters get great throwaway personalities, giving the New York setting that essential grit and texture. It’s a great Friday night film that deserved a much better go in the cinemas. Occasionally you can spot the sets that are based on a Universal backlot, but I think we can forgive this of such a strong movie.


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