Inside Man: Actors, Director deliver the goods

Inside Man really isn’t anything we have not seen before: a caper flick that tries to keep its viewers guessing until the very end. Sound familiar? It should because it has been done a million times. But Inside Man has some things going for it that the others often don’t: a fine script in the hands of a very good director, and a cast that contains a pair of two-time Academy award-winners as well as two Oscar nominees.

Clive Owen is Dalton Russell. Russell has planned the perfect bank robbery. How do we know it is the perfect robbery? He tells us. Russell and his three companions (all called Steve) enter the bank dressed as painters. They quickly take over and lock the doors. When a patrolman comes across the locked doors, he calls for help. Help arrives in the form of Denzel Washington. Washington is Keith Frazier, a detective that is in the dog house over some missing money from a case. While he insists he had nothing to do with it, he is still the prime suspect. He sees this case as a chance to redeem himself and nail a promotion.

The Swat team moves in, the building is isolated, the phone lines tapped and the sewers checked. Every conceivable escape route has been covered. And Detective Frazier is certain that Russell knows this, so why is he so calm? As the night goes on, Frazier become more and more certain that Russell has something up his sleeve that none of them are seeing. Just what is Russell planning?How he is planning on getting away. Therein lies the rub.

Spike Lee takes the helm and does a fantastic job. This is only the second film Lee has directed that he did not write (the first being The 25th Hour, which was adapted by David Benioff from his novel of the same name). When Lee steps away from his usual fare, he shows us just how good he really is. There are twists and turns, none of which seem too far fetched. Rather than deliver the typical bombastic Hollywood thriller, Lee prefers to keep things tight and tense.

Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Willem Defoe and Christopher Plummer all give fine performances, but it is Jodie Foster who stands out. Foster gives her best performance in ages. She plays a power broker who is often called on when the rich and powerful need help getting what they want. Foster has amazing charisma and it is well used here as she exudes confidence and power. You never once doubt she is capable of delivering what she promises.

As I said before, Inside Man will not show you anything you have not seen before, it will simply show you how it is supposed to be done. The rest of Hollywood should take notice as Inside Man proves that anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Jeremy Lynch