I saw a sneak preview today of the new Clive-Denzel-Jodie “perfect heist” thriller. I was skeptical of what Spike Lee would do with a genre picture but he acquits himself well and delivers at least the most memorable if not the best hostage negotiation flick of recent memory.
The film dabbles in multiple genres and Lee evokes noir numerous times: Denzel’s detective wears a hat for cyring out loud, and the posey final shot almost makes the entire picture. Denzel’s character is not the usual righteous crusader but a cop who isn’t above making deals that will advance his career as much as solve the case.
Clive Owen reprises his American — yet unmistakably his own — accent from Sin City, and his delicious monotone is perfectly cast for a movie in which we hear most of his lines from behind a half-balaclava (thus providing a coincidental comparison with the other masked antihero I saw in cinema today, played by Hugo Weaving).
The biggest surprise and most interesting role is Jodie Foster’s, playing a new character for the first time in a while. Glad to see her actually utilized as an actress rather than simply hired to add gravitas to a lame role.
Perhaps as expected, its New York location figures heavily in the movie, with lots of locals providing a mix between authenticity and comic relief. However stereotypical, they give their movie the personality every other contribution to the genre lacks. And the couple of times a racial issue is addressed, a disarming joke is made before approaching preachiness.
As for the concept, it seemed convincing enough and I found a few spoken references to previous hostage movies honest rather than self-concscious because the comments reflected exactly what I was thinking as a viewer.
So I think there’s enough else to recommend Inside Man regardless of what you think of Denzel.