Inside Man [Blu-ray]
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Spike Lee scored his biggest hit to date with Inside Man, an unconventional thriller with fascinating details in the margins of its convoluted plot. The screenplay (by first-timer Russell Gerwitz) could've used a few more rewrites; it moves at a brisk pace but in hindsight a lot of it doesn't make sense. That makes Inside Man more fun to watch than to think about afterwards (when you discover plot holes big enough to drive a truck through), but it's curiously involving, especially as NYPD Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) struggles to outsmart a high-stakes bank robber (Clive Owen) who, along with a well-trained crew of accomplices, has seized control of a Wall Street bank, turning what initially looks like a hostage crisis into a personal crusade to expose some mysterious evil secrets. As you might expect from the director of Do the Right Thing, Lee seizes several satisfying opportunities to examine post-9/11 issues of racial prejudice and domestic terrorism, and the mysterious "problem solver" Madeline White (Jodie Foster), as eerily sinister as she is vaguely defined, is worthy of her own movie. With the benefit of his most stellar cast to date (including Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor), Lee seems more interested in character details than well-crafted suspense, but that doesn't stop Inside Man from being engrossing, subtly amusing, and quirky enough to qualify as a welcomed break from the formulaic thrillers that are Hollywood's bread and butter.--Jeff Shannon