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Inside Man (PG-13)

Release Date: March 24th, 2006 by Universal Pictures.

The Cast: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Willem Dafoe, Peter Gerety, Christopher Plummer.
Directed by Spike Lee.

BASIC PREMISE: When Dalton (Owen) holds people hostage inside a bank, Detective Keith Frazier (Washington) leads the police effort to control the situation.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The excellent cast makes Inside Man much more entertaining than it should be given its clichéd plot. From the very first frame, Dalton and his crew of bank robbers already begin their carefully-planned heist. They hold customers and employees hostage while wearing masks with black clothes and soon force them to wear the same. Detective Frazier tries to communicate with Dalton to end the hostage situation safely. Meanwhile, a power broker (Foster) has her own hidden agenda when she shows up to assist Detective Frazier. Unfortunately, Foster gets too few scenes even though her character becomes more and more integral to the plot. What spoils much of the suspense is that you already know who the bad guy really is from the beginning while Detective Frazier tries to identify him. Also, Dalton doesn’t seem too threatening even though he hit some of the hostages—but he eventually lets most of them go. With the power broker’s hidden agenda subplot, Inside Man does get slightly more suspenseful, but not for too long. Another subplot involving the relationship between Detective Frazier and his wife doesn’t amount to much that’s believable. Director Spike Lee uses stylish visuals to distinguish between the scene of the hostage situation and when Detective Frazier interviews the hostages. Screenwriter Russell Gewitz adds humor with a few quirky hostages, but most of the film maintains a more serious tone. If only the plot had more tension and realistic, memorable characters, Inside Man would have been much more thrilling to watch. On a positive note, the song playing during the opening and closing title sequences is very well-chosen.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Clichéd and contrived plot with equally clichéd characters. Jodi Foster talent is under-used; she disappears for too long during the second half.


IN A NUTSHELL: Stylish directing and an all-star cast barely make up for a clichéd plot with too few thrills.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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