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Inside Man (2006) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 June 2009
Image"Inside Man" is one of Spike Lee's finer films.  Clive Owen and Denzel Washington deliver riveting performances, as does Jodie Foster.  2006 was a big year for Clive Owen with both "Inside Man" and "Children of Men."  The film was enough of a success that it has spawned a sequel that is due in theaters in 2010.  The sequel will contain much of the same cast members, including Denzel Washington and Clive Owen.

"Inside Man" is a suspense thriller that keeps you involved from beginning to end.  While you as the viewer are not always on the same page as what is going on on screen, there is enough information floating around to keep your mind active.  At the same time, there isn't an overwhelming amount of undisclosed information being thrown at you.  It is a perfect balance.

Denzel Washington stars as detective Keith Frazier, a hostage negotiator.  When Dalton (Clive Owen) puts plans in motion to rob a Manhattan Bank, Frazier is called to action.  Dalton and his crew have planned everything down to the tee.  While you are watching the events takes place they seem totally random.  In the end they all make sense.  Of course, once you see the ending, it makes watching the movie ever again rather pointless.

Frazier and Dalton exchange a battle of wits throughout the film.  That brings me to Jodie Foster.  She stars as Madeleine White, a woman that specializes in getting certain jobs done without attracting attention.  Pulling in a favor, she is given complete access to the crime scene.  Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer), the bank owner, hired Ms. White to silence some information.  Case hid some very incriminating evidence about his past in a safety deposit box in this particular bank that is being robbed.  Ms. White is allowed to enter the building to talk with Dalton.  The two are no match for each other, although Dalton seems to come out on top.  Once Ms. White and Dalton reach an understanding about the contents of that safety deposit box she is allowed to leave.

Meanwhile, Frazier is in the dark about what is really going on inside the bank.  As it turns out, Dalton is not there to rob the bank, but somehow found out about the contents of that safety deposit box and is using the information contained within as leverage to escape from the bank free as a bird.  The ending to the film is not what you would expect, which is pleasant, but also disappointing.  I'm not sure what is left for a sequel, but nonetheless I am still interested in seeing what Lee comes up with. "Inside Man" was one of the early Universal titles released on HD DVD.  Universal has used the same master to create this Blu-ray disc.  The source print is free from dust and dirt and scratches.  Film grain is minimal, but a little distracting in the night sequences.  Black levels are strong, but the shadow delineation is a bit weak.  With the amount of dark sequences in the film it becomes a bit of a nuisance to lose such details in the shadows.  Details and textures in the brighter sequences are strong and a great improvement over the standard DVD.  Contrast is boosted so the balance between the contrast and the brightness levels is not perfect.  Colors are muted throughout the film.  Fleshtones are accurate for the level of color saturation.  There does not appear to be any edge enhancement or artifacting.

The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 format.  The dialogue is clean and clear.  Sometimes the dialogue can get a bit bogged down among the other audio assets.  The LFE channel has great prominence right from the start.  The upper frequencies of the LFE channel are missing.  The frequency range jumps from extreme lows to low-mids.  The opening song of the film contains some rather powerful LFE bass hits.  The LFE channel then comes and goes over the course of the film.  The surround channels are active during the action sequences but lacking ambience during other more calm moments.  The dynamic range is above average.  Overall, the audio track is consistent to the point where you won't really notice any issues unless you are truly paying painstaking attention to the audio, which most people don't.  The audio on the HD DVD disc was Dolby TrueHD, so there isn't any difference between this track and the HD DVD track.

The Blu-ray contains all the same bonus materials that were on the HD DVD disc.  All the materials are presented in standard definition.  First, there is an audio commentary with director Spike Lee.  This is a very interesting and engaging commentary track and I highly recommend taking a listen to it.  It has great information about the production of the film, the themes and characters.  There are over 20 minutes of deleted scenes, none of which provide any added value to the film.  "The Making of 'Inside Man'" is a typical production featurette.  There are interviews with cast and crew members.  Lastly, "Number 4" is a discussion with Spike Lee and Denzel Washington about the films that they have worked on together.  The disc is also equipped with BD-Live functionality.

"Inside Man" is a great thriller.  It is pretty much a one time only view, but the storyline and characters are terrific.  Foster and Washington deliver outstanding performances.  The audio quality is impressive and contains some reference moments.  The video quality nears reference quality but falls just short of that pristine look.

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