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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Inside Man (2006)

"Look out, bad guys. Here I come."
- Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: August 07, 2006

Stars: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster
Other Stars: Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, Chiwetel Ejofor
Director: Spike Lee

MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent images
Run Time: 02h:08m:42s
Release Date: August 08, 2006
UPC: 025192884726
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-A- B-

DVD Review

The heist genre just never quite seems to run out of possibilities. The latest entry comes from an unusual source, Spike Lee, for once having major studio backing and an all-star cast. Selling out? Perhaps, but the end result is intriguing and works well, thanks to a clever script and some inspired ad libbing.

Denzel Washington stars as New York City Police Detective Keith Frazier, who, despite being in the doghouse over another case, is assigned the lead on a bank robbery turned hostage situation. The robbery, led by Clive Owen, is impeccably planned. Although the goals remain cryptic until near the very end, they clearly seem to have something to do with a secret that bank chairman Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) has in his safe deposit box. So determined is he that his secret not be revealed that Case goes around the police to fixer Madeleine White (Jodie Foster). But matters begin to go completely out of hand on all counts when Owen threatens to start executing hostages.

This picture is quite a different step for Lee. There are some racially charged moments, however, reminding one that Lee is at the helm, but they're primarily based on anti-Arab discrimination, especially in the person of a Sikh hostage who is roughed up by the police who think he's an Arab terrorist. Other than some mild racial bantering and criticism of gangsta glorification, however, that's really not Lee's focus here. Instead, he's paying homage to the genre, with cameos from Dog Day Afternoon and references to that film as well. Stylistically, Lee uses a strobing camera to increase the freneticism and chaos at the scene. He also pays close attention to NYPD procedure, a factor that also plays into the robbers' plans. At the same time, the picture is leavened with dark humor that helps keep it from being too grim.

The cast is first-rate, starting with Denzel and Dafoe on the police side; they bounce off each other like irritated rivals who have to work together with a grudging respect. Owen has an exceedingly difficult task, conveying character through a mask and sunglasses, but he does a fine job, making his faceless mastermind a threatening and impenetrable figure. He uses pantomime cleverly to convey character, making up for the obscuring of his face. Foster's role is rather small but critical, and she delivers it fiercely. She also hides a number of ambiguities behind her knowing smirk, leaving one more than a little unsure where her loyalties might lie.

The central puzzle is a pretty good one, with plenty of oblique clues provided and a satisfying "aha!" moment near the end. The use of flash-forwards to Frazier interviewing the hostages after the resolution of the crisis both provides additional information and sets up some red herrings. The structure is rewarding and the execution is just as flawless as Owen's plan.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen transfer is, as one might expect for a brand new film, quite attractive. There's good detail and texture, though there is some softness. Shadow detail is a bit plugged up, and there is modest aliasing. The scenes in the interior of the bank are virtually black and white, with the color drained out for the most part, giving the picture a noir character. The source material is pristine.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 DD track is quite active, with a nicely immersive quality. Terence Blanchard's score comes mainly from the surrounds, but it has excellent range. Gunfire has plenty of oomph. Dialogue is pretty center-oriented. The audio is very clean.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
5 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Spike Lee
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:18m:59s

Extras Review: The most prominent extra is a set of five deleted scenes running nearly half an hour. The bulk of these consist of additional witness interviews, which help flesh out the story and the details of the caper, covering a number of matters that might raise questions in the viewer's mind. These also include additional television coverage segments. A pair of featurettes each running about 10 minutes cover both the making of the picture, and a discussion between Washington and Lee about their four collaborations, with special emphasis on Malcolm X. Finally, there's a commentary by Spike Lee, who contributes a few interesting items, but there are far too many empty spaces and descriptions of camera shots to give it a high grade.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Spike Lee takes a different direction with this engaging heist film, delivered with an excellent transfer and some good bonus material.


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