THERE is always a fundamental flaw or few with films that are embedded in a genre, and never is it a clearer cut case than when it involves a bank heist.
Ever since the day Al Pacino ran out onto the streets of New York shouting “Attica, Attica” the bank heist film has fallen into two categories, one which is too good for its own good- half-baked plot twists followed by moronic reasoning used by the writer to explain his way out of a corner.
The other which sees all the trappings of a bank heist film followed to the letter, with a distinct lack of colour, imagination or wit.
Thankfully Inside Man doesn’t fall into either of these groups. Fresh off the mint the film sticks the knife in and poetically Spike Lee twists and turns that blade providing the sort of thrill that one can only dream of in a bank and indeed in a bank heist film.
Inside Man is a thinking viewer’s film one that requires you to remain switched on for vast parts of the movie.
But most importantly it knows its place in the genre and it acknowledges it with referential nods throughout and twists that laugh in the face of the tiresome narrative codes. Dog Day Afternoon is even mentioned by name.
The non-linear narrative, the bank robber anti-hero who isn’t actually conflicted, the brilliantly edited suspect interviews which are given a stylish sepia glow by Spike Lee, all provide a gripping spectacle.
Denzel Washington and Clive Owen are two identical trees at the opposite ends of a forest, yet through the shrubbery their characters have witty exchanges. Both Owen and Washington know when to step up a gear and when to tone it down, and they do so with great regularity.
The only gripes that you’re left with Inside Man is the climax of the hostage situation is a bit abrupt and Jodie Foster wanders in and out every so often without much purpose other than to explain the bank owners sins.
A suspenseful pre-recession bank heist film Inside Man takes you beyond the mere cogs of a bank heist.