Updated: Feb 16
Nominee #2 - Inside Man (2002)
When a criminal heist becomes a hostage situation a bank robber, a broker and a police detective must enter into risky negotiations.
Denzel Washington stars as a hostage negotiator (Detective Keith Frazier) up against Clive Owen's character (Dalton Russell) who has planned the 'perfect' heist of a bank on Wall Street over a 24-hour period.
The cast includes Christopher Plummer (as the bank’s founder with a history to hide), Jodie Foster (as a ruthless fixer hired by the bank founder to protect the contents of a safety deposit box in the bank), Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
This clever story - directed by Spike Lee and written by Russell Gewirtz - mixes New York smarts with strong performances by the lead actors and a surprise revelation at the end to leave viewers thinking and musing about the movie long after it is finished.
For Washington, Inside Man was his fourth collaboration with Spike Lee. He delivers a trademark credible performance as a detective struggling with his own demons even as he tries unsuccessfully to outthink the mastermind and ringleader of the heist.
Witty dialogue, slick and elaborate camerawork, interesting pop culture references and some timely social commentary make this more than just a high-octane heist.
Owen, on the other hand, had it much tougher as he had to emote from behind a hood, mask and sunglasses for extended periods in the film (a high-risk gambit for any actor!). But he pulls off the perfect heist without at any point seeming out of control. Owen was at one time favoured odds to play the role of the world’s most famous spy - 007. His performance here as the cool, calm and collected bad guy in Inside Man makes one consider – what if?
What is obvious to the viewer is that there is a lot of intelligence invested in this film – and that is not just to do with the clever plot twists. Witty dialogue, slick and elaborate camerawork, interesting pop culture references and some timely social commentary make this more than just a high-octane heist. For Spike Lee, this is clearly one of his more straightforward (and successful) outings when compared to the rest of his remarkable oeuvre.