Inside Man (2006) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Inside Man is a Spike Lee film.  I consider that a positive, because I love Spike's films. I've never seen Girl 6, but I think I've seen all the others and I like them all except the preposterous She Hate Me, which I think must have been somebody's idea of a prank. I'll bet Kutcher was behind that one. What a kidder - making a bad film and releasing it under Spike's name. On the other hand, you may not consider Inside man's provenance a positive factor. Maybe you don't like Spike's films. That doesn't matter. This is absolutely nothing like any other Spike Lee film. You probably wouldn't guess the director if Spike had released it anonymously. It's a mainstream, middle-of-the-road mystery/thriller about an elaborate bank heist. The entire essence of the film is the story and the interaction of the three main characters.

Clive Owen is a criminal mastermind who has planned an elaborate bank job. Denzel Washington is the hostage negotiator. Jodie Foster is a mysterious "cleaner" who's trying to manage a private agenda. The story has some social consciousness, but whatever points it wants to make about racism, or the variety of New York life, or the disparity between rich and poor, are simply buried inside the context of the story by the interaction of the characters. There is absolutely zero preaching.

And it is excellent ... engrossing from start to finish. The film is technically adroit, the tension is maintained perfectly, the characters are interesting, and the secrets are neither obvious nor spoiled too early. The Spikester also demonstrates his usual excellent visual sensibility, using the images to dazzle the senses, but also using them to make the logistics of the heist clearer, and to define the social status of the various characters. The story itself had me so engrossed that I ignored the entire world while I watched it straight through on a computer screen (something I almost never do).  Just a kick-ass piece of filmed entertainment.

I could complain that once the film is over, the bloom comes off the rose a bit. The plot, which seems so fascinating in the telling, is riddled with holes once you subject it to any hard analysis. But who cares? It's supposed to be fun to watch, and it is. I am not going to tell you anything else about it, because whatever I write might be a spoiler, and this is one film that you do not want spoiled at all. You want to pick it up cold and just start watching it if you like this kind of movie.



  • widescreen anamorphic
  • Spike Lee and Denzel discuss their collaborations
  • full-length commentary by Spike Lee
  • "behind the scenes" featurette



There is no nudity in Inside Man

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: just fewer than three out of four stars. James Berardinelli 3/4, Roger Ebert 2.5/4,

  • British consensus: two stars out of four. Mail 4/10, Telegraph 7/10, Independent 6/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 4/10, Sun 6/10, Express 8/10, Mirror 6/10, FT 6/10, BBC 2/5.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. A major critical success ... 89% positive reviews. Based on that figure, it is the second-best non-documentary of the year through August, only 1% behind United 93. (Little Miss Sunshine will pass them both if it holds its 91% when it goes wide.)


The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. A major hit ... $180 million, split about evenly between domestic and overseas. Those are big numbers for a March release. Domestically, it had the 11th best March opening weekend in history.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a B. As of August, it is the only film of the year 2006 which has been such a success with both the critics and the ticket-buyers.

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