Why Inside Man is a Great Heist Movie

The best heist movies are those that leaves the viewers wondering –up to the very last scene: how did they pull it off? Of course, the real sense of satisfaction comes when the final reveal is not only impressive, but also a logically acceptable process. And this is why it is not easy to create a truly good heist film –the audience has to buy into the credibility of the plan when the smoke and mirrors are cleared away. In that sense, Inside Man is a very good heist movie. For it not only engages and excites the viewers for the most part of the film, but the ending itself provides a wonderful closure for everyone.

  • Rating:
    3.50 out of 5
  • Length: 2h 9min.
  • Premiere: 24th March 2006(USA)
  • Category: Crime/Drama/Mystery
  • Directors: Spike Lee
  • Writer: Russell Gewirtz
  • Stars: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster

It Looks Simple on the Outside

The movie opens with Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) talking to the audiences about the “perfect bank robbery”. It is shown that he is sitting in a small dark room that is very similar to a holding cell (Dalton himself states outright that it can be “described as a prison cell”). However, every single facial expression and physical mannerisms he gives during the sequence makes it appear that his in a position that he himself wanted to be in.

The film continues on to the robbery itself –Dalton and his crew don the disguises of painters, enter a bank, and quickly take the other clients and staff as hostages. They tell all the hostages to remove their clothes and wear jumpsuits and masks –which makes everyone look like they are part of the crew. In order to circumvent police surveillance, the thieves take the police’s hidden listening devices and play recordings of an Albanian political speech, further throwing off the investigators from learning more about them.

Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) takes the position of negotiator. And from the beginning to the end, Dalton keeps making difficult requests from Frazier –who immediately figures out that Dalton is just stalling, but is still unable to figure out why. Regardless, Dalton forces Frazier to comply with the demands by threatening the lives of the hostages.

At the same time, Madeline White (Jodie Foster) is sent by the bank in order to ‘fix’ the problem. Dalton allows her to enter the bank in order to inspect one specific security box. He then reveals that he knows much about the bank’s origins. White offers Dalton a bribe in exchange for destroying the box and its’ contents but he refuses.

Where it Gets Fun

Eventually, Frazier tests Dalton and assumes that he is not going to kill hostages. As an answer to this, Dalton shoots a hostage in the head –forcing the police to move in. This is the moment the robbers have been waiting for. With the police moving in, the robbers suddenly release all the hostages along with several smoke grenades –and they mix into the crowd, allowing them all to escape. When the police inspect the bank, they realize that none of the weapons are real, the ‘killed hostage’ was a fake, and nothing was stolen in the bank.

As it turns out, the title “Inside Man” reveals more about the plot than anything else. Normally, an inside man would be a willing accomplice from the target institution –in this case, the bank. However, no one the bank, nor the security detail is working with Dalton’s crew. Instead, inside man refers to Dalton himself. During the hostage taking, the bank robbers were busy fabricating a fake wall inside the bank –creating a space for Dalton to hide in. This allows him to easily rob the bank from within several days after the hostage taking incident –his sole target being the security box that White inspected.

Modern, Witty, and Fun

There are a lot of great things to love about this movie. The dialogue is sharp and funny, giving the audience a good grasp on the various personalities of the different characters in the film. The actors are amazing as well, both Owen and Washington give believable portrayals of their very larger than life personas. If you enjoy heist movies, this is one film that you will certainly enjoy.