At this point in his career, I think I’d pay to see Clive Owen introduce host an episode of “The Price is Right,” only because god damn the man is just so freaking talented. I’m a huge fan of Owen, and starring in a Spike Lee joint was no exception to seeking him out. The guy could say Superman was gay, and I’d sit there in awe at his delivery. My disdain for about ninety-percent of Spike Lee’s films not withstanding, “Inside Man” was a film I intended to watch. And happily, I wasn’t disappointed. Almost like Vietnam flashbacks coming back to me, “Inside Man” reminded me of one of my favorite thrillers “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.”
A group of costumed people take over a public place, and are led by a cold madman who has something devious in mind. And like the aforementioned, “Inside Man” is not so quick to deliver the punch line. In Wall Street five robbers have taken over a bank and are holding customers hostage. Keith Frazier is called on the scene with his assistant to negotiate and keep the situation from going out of hand, but after a night of games and exchanges with the leader Dalton, he suddenly realizes they’re not there for money. They’re there for something else entirely. “Inside Man” is not so much about a bank robbery, but more about karma, and on how some times what goes around does indeed come around to bite you hard.
Denzel Washington gives a very good performance as the character of Frazier who attempts to keep up with the constant tricks these robbers are intent on pursuing, and he stands apart from the film as a likable character worthy of a spin-off of his own. Washington and Owen’s chemistry is great and purely awe inducing as Owens’ cool headed Dalton attempts to outwit the sly Frazier. Lee features entertaining interludes within the central plot of Frazier and his assistant interviewing victims of the bank robbery, and suddenly it no longer stands as a simple film about a bank robbery. Suddenly we can see Lee assembling all the pieces of what is a basic puzzle placed before us comprised of different elements. Why the interviews? Well, Lee gets to that very slowly. Featured alongside Washington’s appealing hero is the ubiquitous Chiwetel Ejiofor as Detective Mitchell, the Watson to his Sherlock Holmes, and the two sport a charming chemistry that make them a formidable team.
Then there’s a grim performance by Christopher Plummer, and Jodie Foster as a slimy representative who is intent on keeping the situation top secret. A majority of the film is shot in front of the bank as the team attempts to make their way into the building and negotiate while they’re given the run around, and Lee twists the plot to give it a wider spectrum beyond what we’re seeing. Everything within the focus and themes lead up to something rather interesting, and Lee exposes his slight of hand with a sly charm that make “Inside Man” a unique crime thriller. I think I’ll start calling my stuff “Felix Vasquez Shit.” This has been a Felix Vasquez shit reviewing the Spike Lee Joint called “Inside Man,” a tight and exciting thriller that’s never what you think it is and stands as one of Lee’s best pictures. With great performances by Washington, Ejiofor, and Owen, this is a bank robbery thriller that will keep you in your seat.