23 July 2006 | The_Void
Would have been better if it wasn't so 'clever'...
It's all too obvious that Inside Man is meant to be a lot more clever than it actually is; director Spike Lee peppers his film with a light sprinkling of comments on race and society, but not many of them hold any weight and by the time the film ends, it's difficult to work out just what Lee is actually trying to say. Films that try to be intelligent and fail usually receive low ratings from me, but this one manages to claw some points back because it is entertaining, and the central bank robbery plot line is intricately handled with care and panache. It's a shame that Lee decided to try and make more of this than was necessary. I realise that a great deal of undemanding bank robbery films have already been made; but this one could have been one of the best if the director had stuck to the strongpoints. The plot has two sides to it as we follow a bank robbery from inside the bank and out. Dalton is a smart bank robber who figures out a way to both rob a bank and bamboozle the police at the same time. Denzel Washington is the cop on the case, while the plot is given a third dimension from a scheming power broker.
One of the principle problems with this film is that too much is made of it, and the plot sometimes doesn't come together very well as Lee analyses his plot from both a past and present perspective. This means that we have the police interviewing suspects at the same time as the robbery is going on, and this usually involves cutting back to the bank and seeing someone doing something memorable, before Denzel Washington and his partner try to crack the people they think could be responsible. It gets a bit repetitive too often, but there's usually just about enough going on to make the film interesting. The acting is good, with the wooden Clive Owen getting a role that suits him as the masked bank robber; while the charismatic Denzel Washington provides more interest as the copper. Willem Dafoe doesn't make much of an impression, however, and Jodie Foster could have been better used. Scenes such as the one that sees a kid talking to Clive Owen about a video game involving some rapper are painful and unnecessary, however. The heist plot is well worked out, though, and seeing the plan come together at the end is the film's biggest highlight. Overall, I can't say I didn't enjoy this film as its entertaining and well worked; but it's not the great film that the director obviously wanted it to be.