Inside Man
Directed by: Spike Lee
(Universal)
Following up the abysmal, insulting She Hate Me with a mainstream crime thriller is an odd move for noted provocateur Spike Lee, but it works. Inside Man unfolds partially in real time, as a mysterious, brilliant criminal—Clive Owen—executes “the perfect bank robbery” with an ever-changing team while Denzel Washington’s NYC detective tries to stop him. It’s twinned with police interviews of the hostages, allowing for a small sense of comfort, knowing from the outset everybody doesn’t die in a horrible fashion. It’s a very clever, often funny, fast-paced film with the eerily calm Owen as the anchor, providing a great counterpoint to Washington’s increasingly agitated Frazier. Jodie Foster, as an enigmatic, powerful woman out to protect varying interests, blows in and out of the movie in the exact kind of supporting role she needs to be doing, and it’s shocking that she found it here. Lee has never known how to create decent parts for women (not so shocking, then, is Christopher Plummer’s bank owner calling her “a magnificent cunt”). The ending has some plotting issues—much of this perfect execution seems to rest on coincidence and/or the intelligence level of the law types dealing with it—but everything up to it is well-made and entertaining. A fine summer rental.
—Tara Thorne

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