Saturday, April 01, 2006

Inside Man

Before I start the review proper, I must say, Thank You Spike Lee, for opening and closing Inside Man with Hindi Song Chaiyya Chaiyya, which was used in the Shah Rukh Khan movie Dil Se.

For some reason, I'm so into the song right now, and it was featured in the movie oh-so-perfectly. Love it!

To view and listen to the original, you can click the player below


How do you plan and execute the perfect robbery? Is there even such a thing as perfection in a heist? There are many unknowns, and with hostages, you never know what kind of complications they'll give you. And what more, when the police are all over you in a matter of minutes?

Clive Owen plays Dalton Russell, who tells the audience right in the beginning of the usual questions of the whos and the hows. You know, that bit in the trailer where he almost brags about being able to perform the perfect robbery. He and his band of merry men, dressed as painters, storm into a Manhattan bank one day in broad daylight, to rob it. EXcept that this isn't no plain old by-the-book robbery. The methods used are pretty innovative, and we are left to question the motives of what they are doing.

Denzel Washington plays hostage negotiator Detective Keith Frazier, brining him back to a good cop role after his award winning stint in Training Day. He's been on the side of hostage taker once in JOhnny Q, and here, he plays a good cop with an edgy suspect past, which despite his plea of innocence, still continues to haunt him. Despite putting on a paunch and looking almost unrecognizable here (is it in to be fat for a role?), Washington too provides a charismatic presence in great counterbalance to Owen's enigmatic screen presence, even though he had to do an almost Hugo-Weaving tribute by acting behind a mask.

Completing the heavyweights of casting, is Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe. Plummer plays Arthur Case, the Chairman of the bank that Russell is holding up, and it seemed that he has a dark secret hidden inside the bank which he doesn't want revealed. Jodie Foster, as Madeline White the mysterious power-broker, gets employed to muscle her way into the situation between felon and cop, while Dafoe lends his muscle as a police captain, in a good person role for a change.

Although the film consists of great performers as mentioned, there are limited scenes in which they share the screen together. But it really didn't matter that much, as the material given was riveting enough, and therefore making each moment they share, more treasured. You are left guessing most of the way as the cat and mouse game got underway, and when the finale is revealed, you can't help but share a smile, that it was yes, executed to plan, the way confident Russell wanted it to be.

There is a gripe though, that in the local version, swear words were all being silenced over. Which was irritating as there were gaps in conversation which you have to fill in the blanks by reading lips. Even milder swear words like a-hole were censored blank. What gives? There are PG films out there which has characters swearing, you know? And there was one scene which involved a Sikh, that I felt was a tad insensitive. There are times when the movie lapses into prejudices, but maybe that made this movie a little grittier, and in tune with more realistic sentiments and environments. Watch out for that electronic game too, which I thought was a very subtle jab at the kind of games that are selling well in the market, with no regard to the effect on its targeted audience.

The highlight of the movie, at least to me, was the opening credits scene, which contained pretty ordinary visuals, mundane even, but when somehow played out to the Hindi Song Chaiyya Chaiyya (which was the opening song in the Shah Rukh Khan movie Dil Se), it added a raw energy factor to Inside Man, with visuals and music blending so perfectly. And it was played to its entirety in the opening, and ending credit sequence - where the characters and the performers name are given a final encore.

It's a slick heist thriller, which doesn't conform to the notions of how a heist movie should be. It's the feel good factor at the end of the movie that makes this movie satisfying. This is perhaps the most accessible, and commercial of all Spike Lee Joint films. I'd watch it again, for its engaging politicking story, and for that opening credit sequence.

I so love that track, I'm gonna plug it again:

Chaiyya Chaiyya Bollywood Joint.
Written by A.R. Rahman, Gulzar, Panjabi MC
Performed by Sukhwinder Singh, Sapna Awasthi featuring Panjabi MC

Awesome earworm, even though I don't understand most of what they're singing :P

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