April 1, 2006

Inside Man

insidemanA clever and inventive bank heist thriller, smartly directed by Spike Lee, and gracefully performed by Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster. The movie could have been produced with any director, with any cast, and in any city, but Lee soaks every corner of the story with the people of New York City. Lee never underestimates the audience, the screenplay holds water even under close scrutiny, and the pacing is tight but with ebbs and flows. There's really only one red herring which I had a problem with, but besides that, I felt the screenplay was pretty honest to the audience.

Screenwriter Russell Gewirtz (in his feature-film debut) answers the question "How do bank robbers escape if the police won't let them slip away?" I honestly did not know how it was going to turn out, even though I was watching it with my Usual Suspects-slash-M. Night Shyamalan "trust nothing you see" glasses on. Lee manages to work in plenty of allusions to tolerance and diversity in a post 9-11 America, and the erosion of civil liberties in an America where you can't tell the terrorists from the citizens. Emily read more of a "metaphor for America in Iraq" which also makes some sense. Lee, who is incapable of restraint or understatement, manages to make some of his points with grace and subtlety. (AMC Fenway)