Cast & Crew
At New York City's Manhattan Trust Bank, a Wall Street institution established in 1948, Dalton Russell and three accomplices, referring to one another as Steve, Stevie and Steve-O, enter the building wearing white painters' coveralls. Using an infrared device, they surreptitiously disable the closed circuit television, then don masks and sunglasses. After Russell declares he is robbing the bank, the gang members draw automatic weapons and order the bank's fifty occupants to the floor, then throw a smoke bomb near the entrance, alerting beat patrolman Sergeant Collins. At a police station, Detective Keith Frazier is on the phone with his girl friend Sylvia, talking about her drug-addicted brother who lives with them, and explaining they must delay marriage for financial reasons. Under suspicion because of money missing from a drug arrest, Frazier, who is innocent, is surprised when his superior, Captain Coughlin, puts him in charge of the hostage crisis. Meanwhile, inside the bank, Russell orders the hostages to hand over their cellphones. Upon finding that one bank employee, Peter Hammond, has withheld his cellphone, Russell beats him behind the wall of one of the offices. The hostages are then ordered to strip to their underwear and don hooded dark blue coveralls and masks. Humiliated, grandmotherly Miriam Douglas refuses to undress, but Stevie, a female, takes her into another room and forces her. Outside the bank, the Emergency Service Unit, headed by Captain John Darius, blocks off adjacent streets, stations snipers and surveillance cameras in key locations and diverts the bank's phone lines to the Mobil Command Center van. Upon learning about the situation, the bank's founder, elderly Arthur Case, calls Madeleine White, a discreet, high-priced power broker and corporate fixer, asking for her assistance in retrieving heirlooms in his safe-deposit box in the bank. When White diplomatically suggests Case is not being honest, he assures her that the box's secret is dangerous only to him if disclosed, and she agrees to help him without further questioning. Meanwhile, Russell and his group separate the hostages into different rooms. With well-planned, coordinated precision, Russell's people take turns harassing the hostages while secretly digging a small hole in a basement storage room. Intermittently, various hostages are moved from room and to room, allowing some of the robbers to spend brief periods pretending to be captives. Russell sends one hostage, a Sikh, Vikram Walia, out of the bank with his hands tied, still wearing the dark blue coveralls, a mask and sunglasses. Russell's demands for two buses and a jet plane are written on a safe-deposit box attached with rope around Vikram's neck, but Frazier, his partner, Detective Bill Mitchell, and Darius agree that they cannot accede. After another demand is made for food, Mobil Command Officer Berk, a surveillance expert, suggests they order pizzas and insert transmitters into the containers. After the pizzas are delivered with the transmitters in place, the police receivers pick up a man speaking in a language they cannot identify. Upon learning from one of the surveillance team that the language is Albanian, Frazier recruits the man's Albanian immigrant ex-wife Ilina to translate. After first insisting that her many parking tickets be excused, Ilina identifies the transmission as a tape of a speech delivered by a now-deceased Albanian president. Realizing that they have been hoodwinked, Frazier phones Russell, who asks him to solve an irrelevant riddle. After hasty discussion with his colleagues, Frazier answers the riddle and Russell orders that the next meal be sandwiches. One of the hostages, Brian Robinson, an eight-year-old Brooklyn boy who was with his father when the gang took control, is separated from the others, but remains naïvely unafraid as he concentrates on a portable electronic game. When Russell gently asks to see it, he is shocked by its graphic violence and says that he will talk to his father about it. Later, inside safe-deposit box number 392, Russell finds several bags of diamonds, a large diamond ring and a document bearing a Nazi seal. Meanwhile, after calling in past favors, White has had the mayor introduce her to Frazier and insist that she be given carte blanche . When Frazier objects, White smoothly suggests that she could have him fired over the missing money issue or assure his promotion, forcing Frazier to allow her permission to enter the bank. Inside, she offers the masked Russell a light sentence and $2,000,000 in exchange for the contents of Case's safe-deposit box. Refusing, he shows her the Nazi document and tells her that an American Nazi collaborator was able to start a bank by taking advantage of Holocaust victims. When Russell declines to give her the document, White promises him a large remuneration for it, if he manages to escape. He assures her he will leave by the front door. Afterward, White tells the skeptical Frazier that she does not believe Russell is a murderer. Frazier guesses that the robbers have been stalling for time and, calling their bluff, phones that their plane is ready, but first insists on proof that the hostages are alive. Russell allows him to enter the bank and, while escorting Frazier through rooms containing the captives, offers him a stick of gum. During their conversation, Frazier mentions that he cannot afford to marry his girl friend because of the cost of a ring and Russell unexpectedly says that, if he is in love, money is unimportant. When Frazier threatens to have the ESU storm the building and arrest him, Russell says he will walk out the door when he is ready. Impulsively, Frazier tackles Russell, but is interrupted at gunpoint by Steve-O. Because Russell did not retaliate, Frazier later tells Mitchell that Russell is not violent, but then, through a second floor window, they see a hostage shot through the head. Frazier demands that Russell say what it is he really wants, but Russell answers that the detective is "too smart to be a cop." Displeased by Frazier's performance, Coughlin now places Darius in charge and, relieved of responsibility, Frazier chats with Collins, whose casual comment prompts him to realize that Russell has been listening in to their plans via a recording device contained within the box attached to Vikram when he was released. As the ESU prepares to break into the building, Russell's people briskly herd the hostages toward the front door. After bursting it open with explosives, they blend into the group, although Russell is not among them. Outside, the police roughly corral and handcuff the hostages, and then bus them to the station, where they are interrogated. Inside the bank, the ESU finds no one, living or dead, no booby-traps and no evidence of a robbery. Instead, they find the white coveralls with fake blood and toy guns, and conclude that the perpetrators have taken refuge among the hostages and that the murder was faked. After the interrogations, when Frazier reports that the hostages were unable to identify their captives, Coughlin says to "bury" the case, because, having neither evidence of a robbery nor major injuries, no one is pressuring him to solve it. Dissatisfied, Frazier and Mitchell cannot stop thinking about the case and eventually notice a discrepancy in the bank's safe-deposit box inventories, which list boxes numbered 391 and 393, but not 392. Without drawing attention to her actions, White restores Frazier's reputation by arranging for the missing drug money to be found and sets in motion his promotion. Regarding the mystery of the deposit box, she suggests to Frazier that many Fortune 500 executives have profited from chaotic times. However, when she informs Case that he will have to pay blackmailers to regain the document containing his secret, she also confronts him about his alliance with the Nazis. He confides that he betrayed a close friend and has since tried to compensate for that and other sins through philanthropic deeds. Instead of being indignant, White jokes that she is currently funding a co-op for the nephew of Osama bin Laden. About a week later, Russell, in disguise, emerges from his hiding place, a small cell behind a wall in the bank storage room where the robbers had been digging. Crossing paths with Frazier and Mitchell in the lobby, he bumps into Frazier, who does not recognize him, and they make brief apologies. Outside, when Russell reunites with his four accomplices, he has most of box 392's contents, but not the ring, and tells his partners that the ring is "in good hands." Later, armed with a search warrant, Frazier and Mitchell discover box 392 contains the ring, gum wrappers and a note, reading: "Follow the ring." Presuming a connection between Case and the box, they inform Case they will look into the ring's history. Frazier tells White and the mayor that the ring was connected to a wealthy Jew who died in a concentration camp and indicates that he is communicating with the War Crimes Unit. Approvingly, White offers to get Frazier coverage on the front page of the New York Times . Later, when he is with Sylvia, Frazier finds a large diamond in his pocket and smiles as he realizes that Russell slipped it in there, as he bumped into him walking out the bank's door.
Carlos Andrés Gómez
Rodney "bear" Jackson
Daryl "chill" Mitchell
Robert C. Kirk
Marcia Jean Kurtz
Ed Onipede Blunt
Amir Ali Said
Jason Manuel Olazabal
Craig Marcus Spitzer
Rachel Matthews Black
Baktash Khadem Zaher
Melissa O. Adeyemo
Leila B. Alaoui
Rico O. Alston
Roy T. Anderson
Detective Ed Bogdanowicz
Tuesday P. Brooks
Barry Alexander Brown
Russell T. Bullock
Terence Laron Burke
Vanessa N. Caesar-lopez
Gregory C. Cahill
Shari L. Carpenter
Detective Neil Carter
Larry M. Cherry
Sowoon S. Cho
J. John Corbett
Sandy De Crescent
Katherine De Jesus
Carol De Voe
George Detitta Jr.
Devin J. Donegan
E. Leah Estrin
Jamie K. Fitzpatrick
Samuel G. Friedman
Paul S. Gaily
Mykwain A. Gainey
Jeffrey L. Glave
Douglas A. Huszti
Brian C. Jackson
Rodney M. Jackson
David Jefferson Jr.
Jaspar L. Johnson Iii
Verania E. Kenton
Jason R. Lampkin
George A. Lara
The main story covers a time period of approximately twenty-four hours. In a prologue, Clive Owen as "Dalton Russell," appears in close-up, directly addressing the camera before a black background. As he explains that a cell is not necessarily a prison, he is briefly shown reading and exercising within a cramped cell-like area, and as he admits to executing a "perfect" bank robbery, the black background changes to reveal a cement block wall moving toward him from behind. Stating that he never repeats himself and warning to listen carefully to his words, Russell raises the question of how he accomplished the robbery by paraphrasing William Shakespeare: "And therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub."
The opening credits then commence over images of Brooklyn and Manhattan. The first image is of a van parked beside the famous Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn, which the Los Angeles Times review suggested is a clue to the "wild ride" the filmmakers had in store for the audience. Other shots of street scenes and highways appear through the windows of the moving van, as the driver heads toward the bank, picking up members of the gang along the way.
Throughout the film there are brief flashbacks, flash forwards and fantasy sequences that interrupt the main storyline and disorient the audience, stylistically emulating the disorientation that the hostages and police feel during the robbery. For example, the bank robbery is frequently intercut with short scenes of the hostages in post-crisis interrogations with Denzel Washington as "Detective Keith Frazier" and Chiwetel Ejiofor as "Detective Bill Mitchell." At one point, as "Captain John Darius" (Willem Dafoe) and his men are discussing ways to storm the bank building, several of the ideas the men suggest are dramatized as brief fantasy sequences. One of these shows Russell being shot to death inside the vault in a flurry of bullets that scatters stacks of currency. Throughout the film misleading clues are presented to the audience, such as recurring shots of the robbers digging a hole, presumably for an escape or hiding place, but which is later revealed to be a temporary latrine for Russell's use while in hiding.
Late in the film, Russell again speaks to the camera from the cell-like room, repeating much of his dialogue from the first scene. In a reversal of the prologue, as he speaks, the cement wall moves back and reverts to the black background. Through a brief montage narrated by Russell, the audience learns that his accomplices built the cell for him behind a false wall in the storage room. Russell's voice continues as he admits that his motivation was money, but that "respect is the ultimate currency." At various times in the film, to indicate turmoil in a character, Lee affects a variant of the camera trick used as Russell speaks in the cell. Using Frazier and, at another point, "Arthur Case" (Christopher Plummer), as the subjects, Lee maintains a steady, close-up image of the actor, while the background moves rapidly behind him. As described by the March 2006 Entertainment Weekly review, the technique, which has become known as Lee's signature shot, makes the actor appear "to float while the world zooms behind him."
End credits begin with a shot of a clapper board marking the commencement of a scene by Washington. A brief montage of the individual actors is then presented, with their names superimposed, followed by the complete cast of characters and production crew. A list of acknowledgments and "special thanks" follows. The last few frames contain the logo of Lee's company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, which includes the phrases "Ya dig," "Sho nuff" and "By any means necessary."
Inside Man was the first produced script by former lawyer Russell Gewirtz. As noted in August 2003 Daily Variety and March 2006 Los Angeles Times news items, Daniel M. Rosenberg, who is credited onscreen as executive producer, is a friend of Gewirtz and spent a year assisting in the script's development. According to August 2002 Variety and Daily Variety news items, producer Brian Grazer, joint owner with director Ron Howard of Imagine Entertainment, co-purchased the script of Inside Man with Universal Pictures. Lee states in his DVD commentary that Howard left the project after he was approached by Russell Crowe to direct Cinderella Man (2005). A June 2003 Hollywood Reporter news item, which named Universal executives Scott Stuber and Donna Langley as overseeing the project, reported that writer-director Menno Meyjes was, at that time, in negotiations to direct the film.
In a March 2006 Los Angeles Times article, Grazer related that he had been interested in working with Lee since the director's 1989 picture Do the Right Thing, and was discussing a different project with him, when Lee, who had acquired and read the script independently, asked to film it. The article quoted Grazer as saying that the deal was sealed just after Lee told him, "Brian, I promise you'll have a good time on this."
Although Inside Man is one of the rare Lee-directed films that he neither wrote nor co-wrote, in a March 2006 Los Angeles Times article, Gewirtz stated that a few changes were made by Lee to his original script. Although an April 2005 Hollywood Reporter news item gave Meyjes credit for co-writing the screenplay, the extent of Meyjes' contribution to the completed film has not been determined. In his DVD commentary, Lee stated that writer-director Terry George added the Nazi and diamond ring elements to the script.
Inside Man began production on June 27, 2005 and, according to an American Cinematographer article, shot for forty-three days. The film marked the fourth in which Lee directed Washington. According to Lee's DVD commentary, when he offered Washington his choice of roles, the actor turned down Russell because the character appears masked throughout most of the film. According to production notes, British actor Owen also had qualms about appearing disguised in sunglasses and mask, and so the script was revised to include sequences in which his character's face could be shown. The actors prepared for the film by screening several New York-based heist films, according to the production notes. Washington, Dafoe and the British-born Ejiofor worked with consultants from the New York Police Department and with other New York policemen, especially those who had been involved in hostage situations.
A June 2005 Daily Variety news item, which named Kristin Lowe as one of the Universal executives overseeing the project, reported that the studio and Lee would shoot the film at the Steiner Studios, located at Brooklyn's historic Navy Yard, and make use of a new tax incentive package that New York City and state offered to encourage local film production. Although sequences set in the Manhattan Trust Bank's basement were shot at Steiner, according to Lee's DVD commentary, the lobby scenes were shot at a former bank building at the corner of Exchange and Hanover Place within sight of Wall Street.
According to production notes and Lee's DVD commentary, telephone conversations between Russell and Frazier were shot using two cameras simultaneously filming the actors performing on two different sets of the soundstage, a technique Lee had used in previous films. The DVD commentary also mentioned that the final confrontation Frazier has with White and the mayor was added after principal production, in order to make it more clear to the audience that Frazier intended to continue investigating the provenance of the ring.
According to the same source, other location sites used were the former Immigration Building in Battery Park for a vestibule outside the mayor's office and Case's office, and the Four Seasons Hotel. Within the film there are many shots of New York landmarks, among them the historic Trinity Church and a 9/11 mural commemorating the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Local New York television reporters portrayed the reporters in the film, and the dialogue contains numerous references to New York City and its slang, as well as references to the New York Knicks basketball team, of which Lee is a well-known and devoted fan. In the March 2006 Los Angeles Times article, screenwriter Gewirtz applauded Lee's enhancement of the New York ambience in the final film.
Also in the story are many homages to older films, particularly previous police and hostage dramas. In his audio commentary, Lee related that leaving vague exactly what was contained in the document bearing the Nazi symbol was a tribute to director Alfred Hitchcock's celebrated plot device, the "MacGuffin." Early in Inside Man there is a mention of the 1975 Sidney Lumet picture Dog Day Afternoon, which also centered on a bank heist and hostage situation and is, according to production notes for Inside Man, one of Lee's favorite films. Actress Marcia Jean Kurtz, who portrayed a hostage named "Miriam" in the earlier film, portrays the hostage Miriam Douglas in Inside Man. Lionel Pina, who portrayed a pizza delivery man in Dog Day Afternoon, appears in Inside Man as one of the policemen who delivers the pizzas to the bank's door.
Among other works mentioned is another Lumet film, Serpico (1973), and the popular 1970s television series Kojak. The trumpet theme by Jerry Goldsmith from the 1970 Twentieth Century-Fox release Patton (see below) is played on the soundtrack when the police enter the bank building, and "Sal's Famous Pizzeria," the name appearing on the pizza boxes delivered to the bank robbers, was the fictional pizza parlor in Lee's 1989 Universal film Do the Right Thing.
Many reviews noted that Inside Man was a departure from Lee's previous works, in that it is his "most mainstream studio venture" (Variety) and the "least overtly personal" of his films (New York Times). However, as noted in a March 2006 Los Angeles Times article, Inside Man still offers Lee's "pointed observations about ethnicity and society." For example, when the Sikh hostage, "Vikram Walia" (Waris Ahluwalia), is released in order to present Russell's demands, the police gunmen mistake him for an Arab, confiscate his turban and treat him with hostility. Later, when Walia is being interviewed by Frazier and complains about his treatment, not only by police, but people in general, Frazier blithely responds, "I bet you can get a cab."
The soundtrack for Inside Man continues Lee's vision of diversity. The unexpected sound of A. R. Rahman's "Chaiyya Chaiyya," which originally appeared in the 1998 Mani Ratnam Indian film Dil Se.., is played over the opening credits in a version re-orchestrated by Terence Blanchard. When the song is reprised during the end credits, it is remixed with Panjabi MC's added rap lyrics about people of different backgrounds coming together in order to survive.
Inside Man was selected as one of AFI's Movies of the Year;
Grazer and Washington were nominated, respectively, for a Black Movie Award for Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Lee won the Black Movie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing. According to news items, Lee is planning an unnamed sequel to Inside Man, but as of January 2007 has yet to announce if the story will feature the same actors or characters.
Voted one of the 10 best films of 2006 by the American Film Institute (AFI).
Released in United States on Video August 8, 2006
Released in United States Spring March 24, 2006
Ron Howard was previously attached to direct. Menno Meyjes was previously attached to direct.
Literary Sale Date: 08/21/2002.
Universal paid $400K against $1 million for the script "Inside Man" by Russell Gewirtz.
Released in United States Spring March 24, 2006
Released in United States on Video August 8, 2006