Thursday, May 14, 2015
The film has the usual set-up for this genre. Crooks take hostages in a bank, cops move in, there's debate among the good guys about what to do, and questions about what the bad guys' goals are.
Day Day Afternoon explored and skewered the shameless media and publicity circus that descended when Al Pacino and John Cazale took hostages at a bank on a hot summer's day. At its best, Inside Man examines how in an age of global terrorism, when it is difficult to determine who the enemy could be, law enforcement treats everyone as a potential suspect, including the victims. Here it's made harder by the fact that the bank robbers (led by Clive Owen) order all thirty-plus hostages to dress in the same jumpsuits and masks they are wearing. When the crooks let an occasional hostage go, police react by throwing the terrified person to the ground, slapping on a pair of handcuffs, and interrogating them for hours (of course, with no lawyers or doctors present). One hostage is tossed out because he's having chest pains, and he is treated very roughly by police.
Another hostage, a Sikh employed by the bank, is released carrying a case containing a message from the criminal, wrongly referred by officers as an Arab, and thought to be carrying a bomb. Later, when questioned by the detectives in charge of the case, Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejofor), he demands his turban back, and they keep telling him they'll get it for him later, but they have a more pressing situation to address. He laments the loss of his Civil Liberties.
Lee also miscalculates by intercutting between the hostage crisis as it's ongoing and the interrogations of the hostages after the situation. It throws off the momentum and gives away the fact that most of the hostages, the people at stake, and the police are going to come out all right, defusing any tension. It eventually becomes apparent Owen and his crew have no intention of harming the hostages, so all this talk of deadlines and threats becomes one big waste of time. Ultimately, what Owen sets out to accomplish is a lot less than interesting than if he was just some mad-dog robber trying to steal from the bank and took hostages when cornered.