It was to be the perfect bank robbery, but hostage negotiator Keith Fraizer (Denzel Washinton) is determined to make sure it’s anything but. With civillain lives at stake, Fraizer attempts to reason with the well organized band of crooks and take control the situation, but ultimately discovers that the man helming the robbery (Clive Owen) isn’t your average criminal. Not only is he incredibly intelligent and determined, his motives and methods are not as predictable as initially thought.
If Hollywood isn’t spending seven figures in order to bring the next comic book hero to the big screen, they are probably producing yet another bank heist film. Keep em’ coming, I say, especially if they stay as fresh and exciting as this. Despite being the umpteenth film to depict a bank robbery, Inside Man’s solidly paced, captivatingly told narrative brings something new to the genre. Spike Lee’s direction captures the urgency and tension of both the robbery inside and hostage negotiation process outside the bank, sharing the screen time objectively between both, leaving the audience to decide for themselves which side of the law they want to prevail.
The narrative and directorial strengths of the primary plot allows you to easily forgive the haphazardly told side story that involves Jodie Foster as an highly skilled Fixer (presumably for those with seven figure salaries) whom tries to do some negotiations of her own. Despite Foster’s earnest effort, these mostly inconsequential scenes dilute the drama and excitement rather than compliment it and probably should have been dealt less screen time. The rest of the film is driven by a stellar cast, all of whom turn in top notch performances thanks to the tightly written, witty script. But it is Denzel Washington whom steals each scene, delivering each line with such conviction and charm that it’s not hard to see why he keeps landing the role of the smart and charismatic detective in nearly every movie he appears in.
Inside Man seizes your attention in the opening minutes and takes you hostage for a thrilling two hours, only releasing you when demands are met in the delightfully unexpected closing act.