Inside Man (2006)

A Spike Lee Joint, for people who don’t like Spike Lee Joints.

Dispatched to the scene of a bank robbery, detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) must match wits with a cunning thief (Clive Owen) who’s always one step ahead of the cops. When a loose-cannon negotiator (Jodie Foster) is called on for help, the unstable situation spins out of control. Keith soon finds himself questioning the motives of everyone around him.

One of my fav directors, Spike Lee, is always known for making witty dramas on race, prejudice, sex, gang violence, and etc. I know plenty of people who don’t like his films mostly because of his opinions on the various subjects. But this is one everybody can enjoy.

Lee does not write this film, which I was pretty bummed out about. I like how all of his films usually have a compelling script, with some great character spotlights. This film doesn’t really have much of one. It is your ordinary heist film, but there could have been more that went the extra mile. We get little hits on prejudice and race, but the questions are brought up to the point of where it’s the main theme. For some, I guess their glad it wasn’t like that, but for me, who loves it when Lee get’s big into the themes, I was kind of bummed.

The good thing about this movie is that it is entertaining, with a screenplay that has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. I like hostage films, like Dog Day Afternoon, and this was a fun modern-day scenario twist. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, and although not everything is not fully explained, it soon does all come together. Everything you would expect from a heist film, is turned on its side, and made in a smart way.

There are also some beautiful shots of New York City, not as beautiful as the one’s in 25th Hour, but they still give off the post-9/11 vibe that all of Lee’s films do now.

The one part of this movie that keeps it going, is the incredible ensemble cast. Denzel Washington is perfect here, he’s funny, strong, and you can also tell that he’s a character, when pushed to the edge, he can really just set off, and become your worst nightmare. There is one scene that shows it, and its great. Clive Owen plays the villain in this film well, and he’s smart. He doesn’t give too much of his villainous character away, and by the end you actually start to wonder if he’s the good guy, or the bad guy. Jodie Foster’s character is played well, but she’s put in the film without any real reason, and it doesn’t make sense as to why she’s in there, but it’s still well-acted. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Willem Dafoe, and a great casting job of Christopher Plummer, are also all good too at what they do, and each give in their own little tidbit of acting skills.

Consensus: Inside Man is not one of Lee’s best, and not like his others at all, for better or worse, but keeps you on your seat with its twists and turns, and great ensemble cast.



  1. 25th Hour and this are Lee’s most accessible films and (in my opinion) his best. 25th Hour was a great mirror for New York in a post 9/11 environment.

    • 25th Hour is great cause it’s such a character-driven script that is great. This is a film that everybody can watch, cause it’s not about a message, but a thrill.

  2. I enjoyed this, but I think it’s quite forgettable. I saw an ad for it on TV recently and I couldn’t remember whether I watched the movie already or not. Not the best sign.

  3. Really, really enjoyed this film. Clever, with just enough twists and turns to make a repeat viewing essential, Inside Man is well worth a look.
    Great review too, Dan.

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