Keith Frazier: Denzel Washington
Dalton Russell: Clive Owen
John Darius: Willem Dafoe
Bill Mitchell: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Madeline White: Jodie Foster
Arthur Case: Christopher Russell
Captain Coughlin: Peter Gerety
Universal Pictures presents a film written by Russell Gewirtz and directed by Spike Lee.
Running time: 129 minutes.
Rated R for language and some violent images.
Release Date: March 24, 2006
Review Date: September 26, 2006
Spike Lee's latest flick looks fabulous. It has the types of characters that everybody wants to be or be with. Smooth talking good guys and bad guys alike who are as slick as they come and always have the right thing to say. The major problem here, however, is that Inside Man is all style and no substance.
A group of painters who call each other some variation on the name Steve (led by Clive Owen) head into a bank on Wall Street with the intention of making a very large withdrawal. With the big boss on vaction, it's up to Detectives Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to try and negotiate their way out of the situation and keep several dozen hostages alive.
That would only be the beginning of Inside Man, but the credits are practically rolling by the time we figure that out. That might not make the most sense, but if you sit down and watch this film it will. And I wouldn't say you shouldn't see Inside Man, because it's not a bad film. There just seems to be a lot of unfulfilled potential that makes this potentially thrilling and exciting flick just mediocre.
The biggest example of this is Mrs. White (Jodie Foster). I'm still not sure what purpose she serves to the plot. Yes, the events that she is involved with are eventually explained very well, but is her only purpose to be the one hearing the explanation? She looks very sophisticated and like she belongs in Inside Man - as does her good friend (?) Mr. Case (Christopher Russell) - but I somehow get the feeling that they don't.
I don't remember much from middle school, but I remember hearing the phrase "KISS" in a math class. Keep it simple, stupid. Inside Man tries to make itself too complex and too suave, when a simple fun heist would have done just fine. Because of all of the confusion surrounding the hype, the film runs too long and too slow. Simple solutions that the entire audience can figure out in a few seconds stretch out over entire scenes. There are points where Inside Man takes its time trying to be something more than a good ol' heist flick, and can never figure out how to do it.
Keith Frazier tells Dalton Russell in the midst of the bank robbery that "you can't bullshit a bullshitter". Yet surrounding that scene, it seems like Spike Lee and the minds behind Inside Man are trying to do just that.
**1/2 (out of ****)