A brilliant thief holds a bank hostage, prompting a police detective
and a shady businesswoman to enter high-stakes negotiations.
Inside Man (2006)
Directed by Spike Lee
Written by Russell Gewirtz
Starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster,
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Plummer,
Kim Director, James Ransone, Peter Gerety,
Carlos Andrés Gómez, Bernie Rachelle
Inside Man is a brilliantly made crime thriller with an expert cast of character actors and a complex but intriguing plot. It's got the feel of a classic heist movie and the societal undertones that Spike Lee is known for. In a lot of ways, it does pull off the perfect heist, with Clive Owen's team of robbers not quite being what they appear to be. With every revelation comes a smack to your own forehead because it now seems so obvious, which is a feat that every mystery film should accomplish but very few actually do.
The cast of this film is what makes it so brilliant. Denzel Washington takes the lead as NYPD Detective Keith Frazier, a smart cop who's called onto a bank robbery and figures out that the robbers are up to something besides robbing the bank. His adversary is Dalton Russell, an implausibly likable expert thief played by Clive Owen. Every scene between these two, be it phone conversations or in person chats, is pure gold. Jodie Foster plays Madeleine White, a fixer for New York's wealthiest who has been hired by banker Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) to secure his secret goods in the bank. Both of them were excellent, partly because you're not entirely sure what they're doing in the film until the very end.
This film deals a lot with racism and profiling, with are topics that Spike Lee tends to build his films around. They don't really fit in this heist thriller, though. Throwing in the occasional racial slur or something along those lines just throws the film off base for a few seconds in this case. Regardless, I highly enjoyed Inside Man because of its insanely good script and excellent cast. It's difficult to see why this didn't receive more attention in 2006.