Inside Man
How do you like your hostage situation so far?

Theatrical Release Date: 03/24/2006
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe, Chiwetel Ejiofor

What would it be like if King Arthur tried to rob a bank and the detective assigned to the case was Malcolm X?

Well, sadly I have no idea. But I would much rather have seen that brought to the big screen than watch Spike Lee’s latest joint, “Inside Man”.

From the trailers, one can gather this is a bank heist with possibly more behind the crime than it appears. Giving away the twists seems mean and I really don’t want to write about it anyway. So deal with it. I’m just going to quickly dissect this film and give you the post mortem.

On the positive side, the acting was very good. Though that should come as no surprise since between Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster and Willem Dafoe, they have 4 Academy Awards and 8 more nominations. Add in Christopher Plummer and Chiwetel Ejiofor (my pick for best actor of 2002 in “Dirty Pretty Things”) and you have the makings of a great ensemble cast.

However, the problem, even with great actors, is that you still need a script and a director to lead the way.

The dialogue was okay but I never felt a real connection to any of the characters. And many times throughout the film, I had to question the strength of the characters’ motivations and just about everyone lacked any real depth or development. I classify all of this as a problem.

Moving on to point my disapproving finger squarely at Spike, there were several shots in the film that were borderline ridiculous – most notably a scene where Denzel is reeling from an event in the storyline and floats towards the camera as if he had the power of flight (to quote the D, “that’s levitation, Holmes”). However to quote myself, that’s just stupid, Spike.

Spike also chose to use music at the beginning and end of the film that didn’t relate to anything else in the film. Why? And the credit animations at the beginning dealt involved a vault dial which makes sense because the film deals with a bank robbery … but we never saw anyone use a vault dial so … why did they use that animation for the opening credits again?

I often found myself wondering what the point of the film was. Not that the film was complicated. Far from it, the plot unfolds much too neatly and any sense of suspense can be chucked out the window like yesterday’s bathwater.

And the underlying plot point that lies beneath the robbery is never framed in a light that makes the audience feel that it’s important. Incidentally, I’m pretty sure I saw a “Law & Order” episode that dealt with the same subject and I would rather have watched that again.

I’m just getting more and more frustrated thinking about this film. I just want to forget it all happened!

By the end, I couldn’t have cared less if Clive Owen gets away with his plan, I couldn’t have cared less if Denzel wrapped everything up and I couldn’t have cared less if the film had broke and I never found out either way.

The last time I felt like this was the Affleck-Jackson crapfest “Changing Lanes”. Case in point, there was a power outage about 15 minutes prior to the end of that film and I never cared to go back and see the rest. It just didn’t matter.

Oddly enough though, just the sheer collection of star power in “Inside Man” is enough to mildly entertain and perhaps my hope that something great would happen kept me from completing losing focus on the lights and sounds emanating from the theater I was sitting in so silently with my cell phone switched off.

I kept searching for a way to lower my rating because I found this film so mediocre despite its actors but in the end, I’ll be kind and offer up a 2 out of 5. You can do worse than this film but you can also do a hell of a lot better.

Speaking of which, would you set the King Arthur vs. Malcolm X crime caper in medieval England or 20th century America? Or perhaps more importantly, in space or in Las Vegas?