Reviews & Previews - The Inside Man

Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 at 05:00 PM

The Inside Man

By: S. Tran

Starring: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster
Directed by: Spike Lee
Running Time: 129 Minutes
Rated: Rated R for language and some violent images

No Con Job

One of my biggest pet peeves about Hollywood movies is that they can spend $100,000,000 on cool special effects and yet still miss glaring holes in the script. I guess they figured we would be so wowed by the rubber alien suits we wouldn't notice the stupid plot. The Inside Man however, was not only well directed and acted but also managed to hold itself together right through to the end.

The film revolves around a bank heist pulled off by Dalton (Owen) who takes over a bank and holds the people inside hostage. Detective Frazier (Washington) is called to the scene to negotiate with Owen. His life is complicated by the appearance of Foster who plays a shadowy power broker with her own agenda, backed by the mayor of New York and the chairman of the bank itself.

Washington gives the best performance in the film. I've been a fan of his for a while now and it seems the older he gets the better his acting gets. Here he manages to make Frazier a likeable guy, but likeable in a real world sense.

Frazier is no saintly, one-dimensional do-gooder. He is dedicated to his job but still has his feet planted firmly in reality. He can be pushy and crass and personable at the same time. At times it seems he wants to free the hostages not for their safety but to advance his own agenda. We don't hold this against him though because we all work, we all have our ambitions and so we understand the different things that motivate people.

Owen is also good here as the mysterious thief who can be a brutal thug beneath the calculating exterior. Because he acts behind a mask for most of the movie Owen is a bit handicapped in the role but he does a good job with his character who admittedly isn't as nuanced as Washington's. Unfortunately Foster's role is so small it might as well have been billed as a cameo. I also found she tried to play her character a little too tough. People who have power and control don't need to growl, their presence is enough to let others know they are the big dog. It seemed Foster was trying to act tough instead of being tough.

The film itself is filmed, edited and put together in a tight package by Spike Lee. I think this is my favourite Spike Lee film so far. Spike focuses on getting the story across to the audience instead of trying to put his stamp on everything. He recognized that not everything can be a Spike Lee Joint and let the script and actors do the work. At the same time he adds small touches to keep the visuals interesting for the audience.

By far though most of the credit has to go to writer Russel Gerwitz for a great script. This is the first movie for me since Snatch that delivered a great plot with terrific dialogue and twists that didn't fall apart in the end. Gerwitz has a great ear for dialogue that is not only interesting but it feels real. While Quentin Tarantino writes some great dialogue his words are only spoken in the movie world he inhabits. In The Inside Man we hear people talking like people would talk in real life.

I can't give away any more of the plot, but trust me it is worth the money to sit through this movie and try and outguess Dalton and his crew of bank robbers. The only weak element is the subplot involving Foster that really doesn't go anywhere or add much to the story.

Treat yourself and see this film.


4.5 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to