Spike Lee shows that regardless of the size of his budgets, his movies are his movies.
The ending was highly convoluted.
Inside Man is a heist film but it is actually more than that. A prominent bank has been taken over by Clive Owen and his pack of bandits. Denzel Washington, dressed like a New Orleans detective, is called in to handle the situation. Jodie Foster is summoned to take care of the interests that the bank's owner (Christopher Plummer) has in his safety deposit box. There is very little action in what is essentially a psychologically driven, dialogue film. Everyone is playing a certain angle but it's never clear just how good or bad they are. Spike Lee has taken this opportunity to make a big budget film that is actually a condemnation of backdoor, behind the scenes politics.
This is a cast that is filled with heavy hitters and while sometimes the twist sort of gets muddled (how can it not with the central tenet of the film being that all the bank robbers and the hostages dress the same?), but ultimately Inside Man is an updated version of a cerebrally, entertaining genre.
There are five of these scenes on this disc. They have titles like "Frazier Goes to Work" and "News Reports." As this film ran two hours and nine minutes, it makes all the sense in the world that they probably cut whatever wasn't necessary. What's interesting is that this is the kind of plot that for the majority of the film it's serving up information. It seems they got it right where they needed it to be, without cutting it too much or too little.
The creators of this segment have have done this a bit differently than on most DVDs. It starts off with a table reading and all the actors introduce themselves. As big a stars as Clive, Jodie and Denzel are, it seems like all the egos have been checked at the door. In the talking head interviews Spike Lee brings up such movies as Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, which this movie is and isn't like. I found it interesting how Lee talks about Brian Grazer and the clout that Grazer has. Lee was excited about this because a lot of his movies haven't had that recently and therefore nobody knew they were coming out.
A candid but short discussion between Spike Lee and Denzel Washington as they look back over their work together, and discuss Inside Man which is their fourth collaboration. What's so interesting is how much these guys seem to respect and care about one another, and I think it will be even more interesting when history does a longer retrospective of their work together.
Spike Lee begins this commentary track by announcing that not only is he doing the commentary track the day of the screening, but that it's his 49th birthday. He also talks about how this film is fresh in his mind and how, usually, he doesn't do the commentary tracks until many months later and he's forgotten about the film. He breaks down what we are seeing but never offers the kind of information that announces everything on screen. He talks about casting the actors, utilizing the music and explains the purposeful use of specific New York locales.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.35:1. This film had a really harsh and solid look which is what really reminded me of the courtroom dramas from the 70s and 80s. Spike Lee didn't do a lot of the camera tricks that he is known for, yet I still came away from my screening feeling that I had seen a Spike Lee film. This movie looked big on my small TV screen and I really appreciated the ode to Sal's Pizza Shop (from Do the Right Thing) in the first "food to hostages" scene.
Dolby Digital 5.1. Languages: English, Spanish and French. Subtitled: English, Spanish and French. The sound on this DVD was terrible. It might have been my system, or maybe I didn't have something plugged in correctly, but I didn't understand why I had to turn my TV all the way up to hear everything.
Denzel Washington rightfully gets the biggest pictures on this cover which also features Clive Owen and Jodie Foster. All around them are images from the movie that make it seem more action packed than it is. The back offers up more pictures from the film, a description of the movie, a Bonus Features listing, a credits list and technical specs. There is a cardboard covering that goes over the DVD case that has all the same information as well.
My only problem with this film is the ending simply because it's asking for a lot of coincidences to be accepted. One is usually the maximum but as this film has 3-4 main characters, those create a great deal of loose ends to be tied up. Still, 95% of Inside Man is really entertaining, and I am sure that with multiple viewings that will only increase my understanding. I was really happy to see that Spike Lee was behind this film because while he has been active, the marketplace seems to have crowded him out to a certain degree.
Thankfully, Spike Lee isn't the kind of filmmaker to go gently into that good night and as a result we get a film like Inside Man.
Inside Man was released March 17, 2006.