Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Movie Review

Inside Man

MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent images

Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length:
2 hr. 9 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
March 24, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
Featuring: Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christopher Plummer
Director: Spike Lee
Producer: Daniel Rosenberg, Brian Grazer
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“It looked like the perfect bank robbery. But you can’t judge a crime by its cover.”

WARNING: Review includes spoiler.

Copyrighted, Universal Pictures

Spike Lee’s new movie, “Inside Man”, is an entertaining thriller about a bank robbery that’s more than a bank robbery. The premise is simple. Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) is a wealthy banker who made his fortune by selling out his Jewish friends to the Nazis during World War II. Darrell Russell (Clive Owen) is the bank robber who robs him of his hidden cache of diamonds and takes the documentation that Case had hidden showing his Nazi connections. Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) is the detective who sees through the dual deceptions of both Case and Russell. Frazier proves Case is not the philanthropist he claims to be, and he also proves that Russell is not the simple bank robber that he claims to be.

Jodie Foster plays the character of “Miss White” who is a co-conspirator of Arthur Case and the mayor of New York. Her role is that of a shady representative of a secret organization that maintains the power of corrupt politicians and capitalists. Just as the mayor owed her a favor for a past job, Arthur Case becomes the reference for her next job: helping a relative of Osama bin Laden get the Park Avenue apartment. Presumably, Arthur Case will get this favor from the mayor and will have to do him a favor in return. This is one example of the enigmatic message: “Follow the ring.”

As this is a Spike Lee movie, there are a number of references to race. Racist statements are made by Captain Darius (Willem Dafoe) and Officer Carnow (David Brown). Furthermore, a Sikh employee has his turban ripped off and makes a protracted statement about prejudice in the United States, while a black employee objects to being arrested in such a manner as to show that he is being targeted for his race, even though all the bank employees were detained.

Racial references aside, the film is morally ambiguous. Detective Frazier mentions at least twice that “Everyone is getting theirs, so I’m going to get mine.” As a consequence, Miss White arranges that he get his long-overdue promotion; he is cleared of false charges; he steals the evidence of a multi-million dollar ring; and he keeps a stolen diamond the bank robber put in his pocket. Additionally, he makes a self-conscious speech about putting his foot so far up the posterior of “the Man” that one could drive through the space. For these actions, the viewer is expected to see the character as a good and noble man?

Logically, the movie breaks down for simple reasons. Why would the wealthy banker keep paper evidence of his Nazi past in a safe deposit box for 60 years? Is it to remind him of his guilt? Secondly, the movie’s condemnation of the character raises the question of redemption. Is the position of a banker inherently so evil that even 60 years of good works—and no subsequent evil works—can never erase the guilt of the crimes he committed when he was a “very young man”? Thirdly, if the crimes against Jews that form the basis of the movie are so evil, why does Spike Lee include a Jew as one of the bank robbers? Is this a symbolic way to show retribution even if Jews in general do not benefit from such Robin Hoodism?

Ultimately, the movie is anti-institutional. The police hierarchy is racist in its prosecution of Detective Frazier; the banker is anti-semitic; and Miss White works on behalf of the power structures. In other words, the immoral organizations are all run by “white” people, while black people are uniformly good. This is similar to “The Manchurian Candidate” and to “I, Robot” in its racial formulation, and it is similar to movies like “V for Vendetta” and “Ultraviolet” in its political formulation. In all these movies, it is the institutions that must be destroyed and the anti-hero who is the savior of the masses. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with such premises as a form of escapism. I only object because Hollywood’s escapism in recent films seems confined to anti-Christian and anti-conservative messages. Surely, Hollywood can find criminals outside of these populations.

The movie’s moral condemnation of the banker, the mayor, and the police force would be more credible if it likewise condemned the terrorizing of the bank employees and customers. It’s as if the movie’s message is that terror is all right if it is conducted for the right reason, and that the victims of terror are a necessary by-product of vigilante justice. This is a message of moral equivalence that terrorists around the world use on their own behalf.

Unfortunately, it’s a message that Hollywood itself believes and has made mainstream. For example, “V for Vendetta” producer Joel Silver clings to the old canard that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” in defending the anarchy in that movie.

“Inside Man” contains a number of scenes in which women are seen in their underwear and in which one of the detectives ogles a woman’s figure. Additionally, there are numerous swear words and profanity, with the Lord’s name being used self-consciously. Two examples of the latter are when a Spanish character named “Jesus” is seen abusing a subject, and when Detective Frazier threaten a character with having to perform sex with two inmates named “Jamaal and Jesus.” Lastly, there is the forceful vulgarism of “Miss White, you can kiss my black --!”

The movie’s judgment can be summarized as Russell and Frazier getting their reward in diamonds; the mayor and the banker getting their punishment up the posterior; and none of the victims of terrorism getting murdered. Cynical, perhaps, but all’s well that end’s well!


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—…an exciting bank heist film. Denzel Washington plays the lead detective negotiating with the “bank robbers.” From that point the plot becomes more complicated and interesting, with twists and turns that keep the audience interested up until the end. The overall movie making quality of the firm was quite good, with a Bollywood opening music score, and some signature Spike Lee film making technique.

From a moral perspective, I would not recommend this film for those who are very sensitive to profanity, as the police and other characters use a fair amount of language. Overall, I did not find the film to be morally offensive (there were some mild sexual references). The films theme spoke to the Biblical truth that “your sins will find you out” which I thought was a valuable message to communicate to the viewing audience. Due to the overall message of the movie I gave this movie a better than average moral rating.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—John, age 32
Positive—With all due respect to the people who tagged this as a terrible film and a waste of time due to the language, I wonder if they knew this was a Spike Lee movie. From my understanding, one of Spike Lee’s goals is to present reality in his films. And despite any ideal situation we as Christians might hope for, people do use foul language in real life—coworkers telling filthy jokes, disgruntled patrons in a customer service line, and almost any group of teenagers one has to walk through at the movie theatre to buy a ticket. Certainly it’s not a stretch to believe that a group of bank robbers and a collection of frustrated NYC policemen would fall into that same category. “Inside Man” has a great deal of foul language, yes. But I have a hard time believing all the people who gave it a negative rating were surprised by it.

…The movie was amazing, bottom line. Even during movies I enjoy I often find myself looking at my watch, waiting for it to end so I can get on with my day. During “Inside Man”, I was again looking at my watch, but only because I was hoping I still had an hour left in the movie instead of 15 minutes. The opening music (“Chaiyya Chaiyya”) pulled me into the story immediately, the acting was amazing (it’s too bad Clive Owen had to act behind that mask for the majority of the movie), and the story was intriguing. I’ve read reviews that talk about countless plot twists and holes in the story, but I must have missed them. “Inside Man” is just an enthralling story acted by talented big screen stars. Enjoy, but not with the kids. I’d choose foul language and limited violence over gore and gratuitous sex nine times out of nine.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Jon, age 23
Positive—Having read the reviews on “Inside Man”, I decided I still wanted to see the film. Let me deal with the negatives first. Like other reviewers have said, there is a fair bit of swearing. I guess in that respect, it is probably comparable to “The Negotiator”, if that helps. To be honest that is the worst thing; there are some sexually suggestive comments, but no sex or nudity.

Now to the positives. I thought the movie was well made, kept you wondering what was really going on right till the end. A good bank heist film, with the twist of criminal genius, and some Nazi history thrown in too. I didn’t feel at the end “man, I need to see that again to understand what was going on” like I did at the end of “Mission Impossible”, but I didn’t guess the outcome before it was revealed, if you catch my drift (sorry for being a little vague, I don’t want to give away the story!).

So, from a Christian perspective, if you won’t be offended by the swearing, it’s a good adult film (not for kiddies) with an intriguing plot that’s well worth a viewing.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Joe Bennett, age 23
Positive—This was an entertaining heist movie from Spike Lee. Some of the comments people are leaving make it sound like there are a lot of swears and sexual references, but there really aren’t. They swear, but it isn’t half as bad as most R movies I have seen. “Inside Man” isn’t the best heist movie, but the ending is different than most. It is an enjoyable thriller that should keep you entertained on a night out.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Michal, age 18
Positive—I went to see this movie with some friends… But the language was really bad, constantly F-in F that. If language doesn’t really bother, then I think that you would really enjoy “Inside Man”. If language does bother you then this wouldn’t be the movie for you. …I really liked “Inside Man”, …the plot was well written; it kept you guessing through the whole movie.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Kate Kornkven, age 19
Positive—This is not a movie to take your kids to, folks. It’s a Spike Lee movie. Anyone with any semblance of familiarity with Lee’s work should understand that it is bound to be full of profanity and racial themes.

I’m sorry, but I just wouldn’t believe a movie that plotted New York City cops against bank robbers screaming “Aww shucks!” and “Dagnabbit!” when the heat was on. This movie seemed to me to be more of an allegory to the War on Terror and the other side of a terrorist viewpoint, which was thought-provoking and interesting. No, I didn’t agree with everything, and yes, I think the language could have been watered down a bit, but overall, this film used the objectionable material everyone’s up in arms about to prove its point. If you look at it as a movie about a bank robbery… well… then you won’t get that. And it’s really quite simple to only see profanity and violence if you’re looking at it as a simple story about a bank robbery. But that’s not what it’s about.

I thought it was a very thought-provoking film, and very clear with the viewpoint of the director and writer, whether you agree with it or not. Here’s a basic rule of thumb: if you’re easily offended by profanity, violence, or racial themes, don’t go see a Spike Lee movie. If you can allow yourself to be in the world that the director is creating and examine it, then examine yourself, to step out of the Christian bubble for a second and stop looking for things that are going to send you to hell for hearing them, and just honestly listen to the story and analyze the message… then this is a good movie for you. Not for your kids, but for you. As a whole, people, if you have an alarm system for cuss words and anything un-Little-House-on-the-Prairie, avoid Spike Lee films at all costs.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Jared, age 19
Neutral
Neutral—This is an adult movie. Mature teenagers would be okay also. There is violence and situations to understand not to mention swearing.

Hollywood has to have cops and bad guys swear a lot. Very common situation, bank hold-up with hostages. Very uncommon main plot. Can’t say much more without spoiling it. Very good acting and fairly well put together except for it was too long. the amount of time is not the problem it was more the directing I guess. It had points where it seemed to drag. I liked the movie in spite of its flaws but would have been happy to rent it. It just barely makes my cut for satisfaction after paying all the money to see it in the theater. Jody foster acted well, but her character was not written well, or else I missed something. Her role probably could have been cut altogether. At least developed better. It still seems a bit curious to me what she was for.

There were 4 or 5 definite chuckle/laugh moments. This actually may have saved the movie. Considering the movie more at this time so as to write a review, it sounds worse than I think it was. The movie jumps right into things and then has ups and downs and those downs might ruin it for some. It seems the dragging moments were shortened just before the end of tolerance so you can keep interest until the end.

…the ending was very disappointing. Although just before the end I caught the last bit of fact that made me say ohh. It seems I may have possibly been slow on this, because my wife claims to have known much sooner.

A couple of people are brutally beaten, but it is not as graphic as usual, you don’t actually get to, or have to, see it. People are forced to strip to their underwear, and other than the obvious of it, there was not the feeling of sensuality and it fit the plot as well.

The hostage negotiator, Denzel Washington, was portrayed as a bit less capable than it is normally played. So it seemed to me. Not the type like a Bruce Willis or Eddie Murphy. That is how I took it anyway, and it was curious to me while watching the movie but did not adversely affect it. If this type of drama is your type of movie and or if Denzel Washington does it for you, then you will certainly like Inside Man. It is hard to expect anyone would not agree the move drags several times.

As background, actors and plots or genres don;t make a movie for me, or even effect the enjoyment or anticipation. The price of a ticket is big deal to me as well and therefore the expectation or the critique is affected by it. I want the movie to be worth the time and trouble as well as expense of sitting in the theater. I had seen a few newspaper reviews and Ebert as well, and they pumped the movie a bit higher than it turned out for me. I would have passed until video had I known, but it is not bad that I did see it in the theater. Out of five, a weak 3 stars. I hope this helps.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Dale, age 45
Negative
Negative—There are so many F-bombs (I would guess more than 20) and way too many other curse words that make this movie that would otherwise be a good story hard to take. You have to wonder if people in the world really talk like this; I don’t think so! There are some very sensual scenes with women’s cleavage and T-shirts and a scene where all the hostages are told to take off all their clothes down to their underwear. There is a whole line of women scantily clad. Usually I would not have stayed for this kind of movie, but we did. This was one of the few times we didn’t consult this Web site before going, but we were out of town and didn’t have access to the Internet. Again, this isn’t minor language, which I can handle; it’s all over the place! Also, the villain seems to have more morals in many ways than the rest of the cast.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 2
—E Baset, age 46
Negative—I would have to agree with the other viewer’s review. Not only was the F-word used numerous times, it was very crude. I also found it to be boring; it seemed to drag on and on. It would have a scene with the robbers and the serious music, then switch to the police and detectives and have music playing that sounded like a TV sitcom. I was disappointed that there really wasn’t a good guy, or a moral value to root for. I also didn’t consult this Web site prior to viewing the film, and regret that I lost 2 hours on this film. I would further agree with the other viewer’s review, in that the “robbers” seemed to have more morals than the rest of the cast. Don’t waste your time or money on this film. I left it feeling regretful for sitting through it and bummed that I’d spent my free time at this film.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Melissa, age 24
Negative—What a disappointment! The film is full of great actors who lowered themselves to make this movie! While I used to respect Denzel Washington as an actor, the last few movies he’s made were morally degrading in my opinion. This one is no different. His character was so crude, I would never recommend this movie to anyone. Also, nothing spectacular or super engaging about this movie. It could have been okay without all the filth but save your time and money and see something else.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 2
—R. Smotherman, age 32
Negative—My husband and I saw this movie without much thought going in, we were just out together. We agreed after this, we will always consult this site before going to another movie! I was close to walking out several times but didn’t due to where I was sitting. The language was horrible. I really cannot understand the guy’s comment about a Biblical message! The main character is sleeping with his girlfriend and the language they use to refer to body parts/sex is offensive. The persons committing the crime do seem to be the only ones with a conscience. Jodie Foster’s character was evil with sugar poured on it, and the Mayor uses vulgar language and is evil too. I typically love action/mystery/drama, but this was a waste of money. I wouldn’t even have rented it. It made me feel like I needed to shower after watching it.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—P. Sullivan, age 36
Negative—We just saw this film and definitely give it a thumbs down. We can handle objectionable material as long as it is realistic, relatively tasteful, and fits in the context and theme of the story. The technical part about how they pulled off the bank heist was pretty good, with a neat surprise at the end. However, at the end there is no sense of justice, no loose ends tied up that left my wife and I feeling slighted.

The story was not even close to being good enough to make up for all the offensive content—the whole bit about the detective living with and having premarital sex with his girlfriend added nothing to the film. The scene with the violent video game, which seemed to be more Spike Lee commentary, was totally over the top and unnecessary. Like the reviewer above said, nobody in the film seems to be “the good guy.” The only thing that seems certain is that the mayor and the banker are the “bad guys”—the rich white bad guys.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—J Mooney, age 28
Negative—The MPAA group apparently missed every sexual slur and reference in the dialogue of this film. If they decided to blur the sexual references in with the note of there being “language” in the film, then they most definitely need to change that rating system of theirs. I can handle language—even a handful of those F-bombs—but I really hate the sexual references. They are more than unnecessary (most of the time and especially in this film), and they need to be noted in the rating. Just saying there is “Language” in the film with it being rated “R” doesn’t cut it for me. I wish I knew what the script held in store for its audiences. I wouldn’t have bothered. Just know that the sexual dialogue is pretty explicit, is mostly used as “comic relief,” and was down-right inessential. The plot-line and ending only squeezed a “Huh… nifty” from me and only held my attention to the fact that my butt started hurting, and I wanted it to end. Although, it wasn’t as long or as feeble as “King Kong” was. Instead, go rent “Cinderella Man” or “Luther”. I got those this weekend and really enjoyed them.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—Brandon, age 20
Negative—I went to go see this movie with my girlfriend… She was the one who saw the previews and peaked my interest in it, and I saw that Denzel was in it, so I figured it would be pretty good and based on the previews. It seemed ones of those movies rated “R” for the violence and thematic elements; it’s a bank heist movie what would you expect? But within the first 5 minutes I heard the F-word more times than I probably have ever heard in a single day from co-workers. We were initially very offended and disappointed that such great actors and such a great plot would stoop so low to use this word so frequently. It wasn’t just the bad guys, but EVERYONE—men, women, people of class and bums. I hear language often enough so it usually doesn’t effect me if it’s just a passing profanity, but the use of this ONE profanity repeatedly (probably at least a hundred times throughout the film—definitely more than 20) made it one of those movies you definitely could not relax through. It seemed as though the person scripting this film just learned the English language and that was the only curse word they knew in the book. GREAT movie, moviemaking wise as well as its actors, but the language ABSOLUTELY ruined it!!! Wait until it comes out on video and get it censored; you won’t miss a thing, except the negativeness conveyed by the EXTREMELY repetitious use of the F-word.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4
—Josh, age 18
Negative—…The language in this movie made it offensive to me because the F-word was used over and over again. Honestly, I felt “dirty” by the time I left and also convicted. If I knew then what I know now, I would of never of seen it. Please wait till it comes out on DVD and make sure to have a DVD player that takes out/blocks the profanity, because by doing so you’ll end up watching a silent movie! Learn from my mistake—please don’t go.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—R.T. Down, age 39
Comments from young people
Positive—This was a fun movie. Sure there was language, but what do you expect in an R-rated movie? …“Inside Man” was actually pretty tame compared to the movies I watch. It was a fun, engaging thriller, with a nice twist. Could have used some tightening, but overall it was very tense and surprising. I especially liked Clive Owen, what a great bank robbery!
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Caleb, age 16