Spike Lee grafts his unique sensibilities onto a pretty conventional bank heist plot with Inside Man. The results are mixed; some of Lee's cinematic tricks seem simply out of place. But look past the occasional slip, and what emerges is a slick, briskly paced tale of bank robbers who think they're at least half-again as smart as everybody else, and maybe are.
Lee, working off a screenplay from first-timer Russell Gewirtz, certainly benefits from his continued good standing within Hollywood's acting community. Actors like to be seen in his films; when you can attract a cast that includes Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster, as well as nominees Clive Owen and Willem Dafoe, audiences will be predisposed to enjoy your work.
Inside Man (Universal Pictures) Starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster. Directed by Spike Lee. Rated R. Time 129 minutes.