Analysis of the Film "Inside Man"

Topics: Spike Lee, Inside Man, Christopher Plummer Pages: 5 (2060 words) Published: March 19, 2013
Patrick Carruthers Neupert – Film Studies The True “Inside Man”
“Inside Man” was released in 2006 and would later become the highest grossing film for the director Spike Lee. The film is a crime-drama, located primarily in a bank in New York City run by multi billionaire Arthur Case. Although the film is a thriller and contains bits of action and suspense, the movie focuses heavily on the difference between good and evil. The movie begins with a shot in medias res of Clive Owen’s character Dalton Russell explaining the difference between being stuck in a tiny cell and being in prison while he moves around a small room which is later disclosed to be part of the maintenance room of the bank blocked off by a fake wall. Russell then explains that he has recently robbed a bank for “obvious financial reasons” and just simply because he can. How he does it is then shown throughout the film, leading up to the conclusion of the film and a second showing of the opening scene, this time possessing a different connation. The significance of the bank is shown to be in the contents of the unregistered safety deposit box located in the vault. The box contains jewels and potentially damaging content to Arthur Case which proves his involvement with the Nazis during the Holocaust in order to gain the financial status he now has. This prompts him to hire Ms. White (Jodie Foster), a woman who specializes in “dealing with these kinds of things” to somehow extract or eliminate the box. In the meantime Denzel Washington’s character Detective Keith Frazier leads the police force surrounding the bank and essentially becomes the viewer’s alignment unit for much of the film which focuses primarily on his character throughout the picture. The film goes on to explain Arthur Case’s involvement with the Nazis in the Holocaust, sparking Ms. White’s necessity to use her connections within the government, and overall stressing Lee’s main point on government corruption and greed. Spike Lee uses a switch between subjective and objective identification by forming recognition of the main characters, Detective Frazier, Ms. White, and Dalton Russell in order to align the spectator with the characters’ moral values and create an allegiance towards them, highlighting the film’s focus on how the title “Inside Man” represents not only Russell, but the government corruption shown by Ms. White and the cruel reality that Arthur Case reached his position of wealth by being an “inside man” for the Nazis, essentially giving up the soul inside of him.

Throughout the film the spectator sees both a subjective and objective view of the characters. The film opens with an almost autobiographical approach from Russell who is literally speaking to the audience as if he could see them. This changes drastically though when the following scenes show high angle shots choppily following the robbers as they board the painting van reading, “we never leave until the job is finished” en route to the bank. The masks and clothing of the robbers serve to make recognition impossible and keep the viewer distanced from Russell’s accomplices. Until the remainder of the movie the robbers all refer to themselves with variations of the name Steve, making recognition even more difficult, and focusing the attention primarily on Russell rather than the other members of the group. This focus is also accomplished with the lack of lighting and face shots of the other robbers and the fact that the opening scene features Russell in three point lighting without a background, immediately introducing him to the viewer as a main character. Although Russell is seen multiple times in the film, aside from the opening scene and the same scene shown again prior to his escape, his actual opinions are seen more through his actions than through spoken thoughts, mainly shown during his...
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