Inside Man is a 2006 film directed by Spike Lee starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It is a crime thriller that centers on a intricately planned bank robbery that takes place in New York on Wall Street.
Several people disguised as painters enter a bank and begin an elaborate bank robbery where they take many hostages. A group of policemen are called to the scene to deal with the situation but find that the bank robbers seem to always be several steps ahead of them.
Take a look at the trailer to get a better idea:
My opinion of Inside Man
At first glance, this film seems fairly « déjà vu » : a bank robbery lead by a criminal mastermind, a group of policemen who can’t get a hold of the situation and a generous dose of tension as the robbery plays out with a fair amount of guns and shooting involved.
However, Inside Man is much better than that: the criminals’ plan to rob the bank slowly unfolds and shows the viewers that this is no ordinary thriller. The story is original in several ways:
- The bank robbery in itself is very different from any other you have ever seen: various techniques are used to confuse the policemen and the hostages alike. It is extremely interesting to watch and keeps you focused until the very end of the film.
- While the robbery is playing out, you see images of the hostages speaking to the police after the events and you understand very quickly that even the hostages are suspects in the affair.
- There is next to no violence! I tend to get nervous watching this sort of film because I just can’t stand seeing people being beaten up or killed, even if I know it is all special effects. While I can’t tell you much more without revealing too much, there is a reason there is very little violence: the mystery criminals are not violent people, despite committing armed robbery. You’ll just have to watch the film to see what I mean!
The whole story is very clever, funny at times and also thought provoking. There is a poignant scene with a small boy who is also a hostage and who is playing a very violent video game. The main robber sees it and mentions that such a bloody game is not suitable for a young child, showing that he is a humane person in an immoral situation.
All in all, the acting is good in my opinion. Denzel Washington, who plays the main cop, is funny, clever and dashing. I liked the fact that the two top policemen were black: a little diversity in a very white film that takes the time to evoke the theme of racism in the police force. Jodie Foster’s role was fairly uninteresting to me, but her character serves a very particular purpose: to suddenly make the stakes of the robbery personal and even political.
Inside Man is a fast moving, clever and intricate crime fiction that is also very original. It’s the kind of thing that I really enjoy watching, because it combines the tension of the crime genre without the bloody images that so often take over such stories!
To be honest, the final reversal of events is so incredible that it justifies watching the whole film in the first place. Do tell me what you think if you watch it!