Inside Man

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Inside Man Movie Poster Image
Smart heist movie is not for children.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 129 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 22 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bank robbers, angry cops, corrupt executives: All misbehave, cheat, and lie.

Violence

Explosions (inside bank); a man is beaten behind a door (shadows visible and grunts audible), and he emerges bruised and bloody; gunshots, a seeming (and disturbing) execution of a character with a bag over his head.

Sex

References to women's breasts (plus some jokes about men's tendency to focus on breasts); sexual language and discussion of sexual activity; hostages are upset when they're forced to strip (we see them looking uncomfortable in underwear).

Language

Lots of profanity. Several instances of the n-word (including a video game called "Kill Dat N---a"); over 50 uses of f-word; slang for genitals.

Consumerism

iPods.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking (cigarettes and cigars).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes extreme language (frequent "f--k"s and other profanity, including the "N" word). The robbers take the bank with smoke bombs, dress in masks and painters' coveralls, and look ominous throughout; hostages are frightened, with some crying and others acting tough. The film includes sexual language. Characters display and discuss racism (most often, anti-Arab and anti-black). Characters smoke cigarettes and cigars. One crucial plot point involves a character making money by working with Nazis during WWII.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written by4Spice December 13, 2009

good movie 12 and over

very good movie almost as good as oceans eleven very smart worth watching 12 and over kids wont under stand it
Adult Written byadrian_simpson93 April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byjcdizz April 9, 2008

One of the Smrtest Movies Ever

This movie is not as bad as it may seem. This movie is smart and provokes critical thinking. I have to agree that the language is a pretty important issue, ther... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bysimonakg August 14, 2014

16 YEARS? NOT GONNA WORK!

This is my favourite movie. A thriller by Spike Lee, starring my favourite actor, Denzel Washington. I saw it at school when I was in 6th grade, when I was abou... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set in New York City, INSIDE MAN centers on "the perfect bank robbery" planned by Dalton Russell (Clive Owen). Clad in painters' uniforms and masks, Dalton's team enters the bank at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway, disables the surveillance cameras, and takes all the customers, workers, and security guards hostage. By the time detectives Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and his partner Mitch (Chiwetel Ejiofor) arrive, the crime scene is taped off, a mini-city populated by shooters and uniforms, hulking vans and vocal gawkers. Inside the bank, the robbers dress the hostages like themselves, move them from room to room so they can't get to know one another, and dig up a wall in the storage room. Keith has to make nice with turf-protecting Emergency Services Unit Captain Darius (Willem Dafoe), still mad at him for some case they worked years ago. As time ticks, bank board chairman Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) sends an excruciatingly intelligent fixer, Madeline White (Jodie Foster), who knows how to reach the chief robber in charge. And yet, she can't quite solve this puzzle, which involves a special personal safe deposit box inside the bank.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way the film uses the generic bank robbery plot to evoke more profound social and political issues, like racism, corruption, ambition, and post-9/11 fears about surveillance and terrorism. How do Keith and the robber, Dalton, come to understand each other's motives and goals? How does the movie compare the moral positions of upper-crusty characters (who own or run the bank) and "regular folks," who bank or work at the institution?

Movie details

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