Tense, showy, and shrewd, Inside Man is Spike Lee's most accessible film, but that's not what makes it brainy or galvanizing. Indeed, its cleverest moments involve odd and telling details: The credits sequence use of "Chaiyya Chaiyya," the white-guy who recognizes but cannot translate Albanian language, and perhaps most energetically, the Sikh who resents being profiled as "Arab."
While the heisty plot includes the sorts of cunning turns familiar since Die Hard, its more compelling aspect is its New Yorkness. The city is everywhere in the film, outside and inside, but mostly, it's the incisive focus, impetus, and consequence. In between the figuring and plotting, the film flash-forwards to exit interviews with the hostage as Mitch and Keith press them to confess their collaboration. This array -- anxious, audacious, arrogant -- is clearly made up for "New York" embodiments, persevering, traumatized, post-9/11. Competing traumas, leveling oppressions, comparable resiliences. It's definitely New York.