Film Reviews


By • Mar 24th, 2006 •

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Universal Pictures / Imagine Entertainment
MPAA rating R / Running time — 128 minutes

QUOTE: Sharp-witted screenplay, terrific performances, and a very smart plot.

A clever, witty screenplay by Russell Gewirtz gives Denzel Washington a lot to work with. He clearly relishes this multi-layered role. And Jodie Foster runs free with her co-starring role and gives a terrific sexy performance. (Who knew she had it in her?) Everything works here. The opening music is fabulous. Spike Lee has made an entertaining, smart movie.

Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) robs banks. With the air of detached sophistication
and ruthless execution, Russell and his accomplices boldly stroll into a Manhattan bank and take 50 people hostages. NYPD hostage negotiator Keith Frazier (Washington) and his partner Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejoifor) are assigned to the case. Russell, also under investigation for the disappearance of $145,000 in drug money, must work with the cops who have already secured the scene, headed by Emergency Services Unit Capt. John Darius (Willem Dafoe).

As we watch the NYPD secure the bank, we see just how clever Russell is. He makes all the hostages wear overalls and cover their faces. He has everything figured out.

The timeline is not linear. We are also shown Russell and Mitchell interviewing the hostages after the ordeal is over. Remember Sharon Stone’s remark when she was told that no smoking was allowed in the police station? Gewirtz has written a nice tribute line of dialogue.

The heist is further complicated by the bank’s board chairman, Arthur Case (every movie’s go-to guy for an aristocratic elderly gentlemen, the hardest working man in show business, Christopher Plummer) who has something nasty sitting in his safety deposit vault. Case calls on fixer Madeline White (Foster) to make sure he gets the contents of the box instead of anyone else. White is so connected, she gets inside the bank! And White’s scenes with Russell are tempestuous.

The outcome is perfect and so clever, I intend to see INSIDE MAN again. Washington is in his element, with a charm that vibrates throughout his performance. He delivers the goods and urban charm. And Foster should thank director Spike Lee for giving her a format to display a mature sexiness that has been sorely lacking from her previous film roles. She is a worthy bitch.

Director: Spike Lee
Screenwriter: Russell Gewirtz
Producer: Brian Grazer
Executive producers: Daniel M. Rosenberg, Jon Kilik, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Kim Roth
Director of photography: Matthew Libatique
Production designer: Wynn Thomas
Music: Terence Blanchard
Co-producer: Jonathan Filley
Costumes: Donna Berwick
Editor: Barry Alexander Brown

Keith Frazier: Denzel Washington
Dalton Russell: Clive Owen
Madeline White: Jodie Foster
Arthur Case: Christopher Plummer
John Darius: Willem Dafoe
Bill Mitchell: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Steve Carlos: Andres Gomez
Stevie: Kim Director
Steve-O: James Ransone

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