MovieHype00649 – INSIDE MAN
The Heist: Ten pounds of Awesome in a five pound bag.
The Plot (keeping with my new tradition of 30 words or fewer): Clive Owen is robbing a bank—with hostages, Denzel Washington is trying to stop him and save the people while figuring out the mystery; things are not as they seem…..Mwuahahahaha. (I’m getting better at this!)
With my dad being ill we didn’t get to do anything for his birthday, so last Friday I took him to go see INSIDE MAN. Before the film though were the requisite previews.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 and THE DA VINCI CODE were okay, but not spectacular. MI3 is bullet proof at this point; just play the music and you have a built in audience, but DA VINCI just felt generic. Then there was FLIGHT 93. I cannot for the life of me figure why I would want to see this movie (about the plane that was highjacked on 9/11 but ended up crashing). At this point all it will do is unsettle things, and the depiction of Arabs just in the preview makes me think this isn’t going to help matters any.
As disturbing as that was, Mel Gibson’s new APOCALYPTICO made up for it. I wasn’t a fan of PASSION, but never accuse me of holding a grudge. I was going to say the preview for APOCALYPTICO was the best I’d seen since CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, but having just watched a version of it again, I think it might be better. I am jacked up for that.
On to INSIDE MAN.
The film is directed by Spike Lee, which may or may not mean anything to you. I don’t always see eye to eye with his politics, but that man at the top of his game is a talent. The last two I’ve seen of his—25th HOUR and BAMBOOZLED—were quiet masterpieces, and I feel the same way here.
I mention Spike Lee because he is known for rather in-your-face adult content. My dad was totally not a fan of the language, which I can understand. I, on the other hand, having seen most of Lee’s films, actually thought he toned it down. Besides that, I always find that Spike Lee captures the way people really talk. But I suppose people of good will can disagree.
Let me tell you what I liked so much. From the hostage Negotiator’s point of view (Denzel Washington), I felt like I was watching something that might actually happen. I don’t know how real the details were, but they felt real. I liked how politics played a big role, and there were shadowy figures involved where you weren’t quite sure what they were up to. (Chief among these was Jody Foster. She’s such a great actress, but I like it that she deigns to make regular-people movies, instead of just nomination-worthy, as many in her class do.)
Hanging out with Denzel and his partner ( the stud-muffinly Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a real treat. You felt like you were in the middle of a long TV series about these two, but it was deck because you instantly pick up on the nuances of what’s going on.
On the other side of the bank doors was Clive Owen and his peeps. I enjoyed that part because he was in such total control. I suppose you could argue some drama was missing because of it, but his plan was so well thought out that I counted it a privilege to watch it unfold.
Suspension of Disbelief: There are a few stretches, but not too many. 4.
Genre Grade: Obviously Heist films. This one is much more serious than movies like OCEAN’S 11 or THE STING, but just about as good. B+/A-.
Objectionable Content? I mentioned the language, and there is some violence, and some sensuality. (At one point everyone has to strip to their underwear; a fabulous idea. They don’t have to stay that way, but you can’t have everything.) This film earns its R, but your average Sopranos episode is far worse.
Kickassability: All over the place. Both Clive Owen and Denzel Washington are awesome, and Jody Foster kicks some hind end too. 68.
Pantheon Percentile: Heist films are usually too breezy and unimportant to take their place alongside weightier dramatic fare, but I usually enjoy them more. I know I will watch this again. 75.
There were a couple of things I wasn’t so high on. I’m still not sure if the foreshadowing reduced the dramatic tension or not. At first I wondered why it was necessary. As we got closer and closer to the present and future meeting there was an added tension by knowing (or thinking you know) what was coming, but I suppose some might not like that.
And, the payoff wasn’t all that BOOM like you expect in a Heist film, but I wasn’t too worried. For me, being along for the ride was the fun.
Since viewing INSIDE MAN I’ve read a few reviews complaining how derivative the material is in INSIDE MAN, especially if you’re a fan of DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Well, I haven’t seen that film, but even if I have, it was over 30 years ago. For my money, INSIDE MAN offered a predictable genre in a fresh new style. Not everything worked, but I loved the fact that we were seeing things in a different light.
Every performance rocked and the film crammed a ton of stuff into a hundred twenty five minutes of running time. And then end…you gotta love a film that can end like that. This doesn’t even begin to talk about the humor, of which there was plenty, both slapstick comic relief, and the sensibilities of the situation. There’s a scene with a Sikh that’s funny in its pain, and one with a boy’s video game that’s a Spike Lee mini editorial stuck right into the movie; but it fits.
The language may be too big an issue for some of you, but I’d like to point out that nobody’s making you talk that way, and I’m fairly certain the people in this situation would. All in all, INSIDE MAN was thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended.