For anyone who knows me, or reads this horseshit blog enough to get an idea of how I am, I have always pretty much been a loner. Besides the things you obviously do by yourself like self gratification, I eat alone, go to concerts by myself, and lastly go to the movies with me, myself, and I. Not to be mean or anything, but I can't stand the cow-like chewing of popcorn, the wrestling of the armrest, and the constant "What did he say?" questions when you usually attend a flick with someone else. But this time, because an old friend of mine is an even bigger Spike Lee fan than I am, I felt he would respect the sanctity of the movie theater and not make me want to punch him in his fucking sternum. So I thought.
I picked up my friend and for the first few moments in the car we had a decent conversation going, like this possibly being Lee's most commercial flick, the great career ahead of Chiwetel Ejiofor, and who could win in a fight between Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer. Unfortunately, the last topic I named almost had me throw his ass out of my car when he asked "Who would win in a fight, Tony Soprano or jack Bauer?" But before I could answer he said, "Tony would beat Jack's ass, that's obvious!!" Giving him a puzzled look I said, "How is that "obvious"? Jack is a highly trained agent with weapons skills, and a shitload of fighting disciplines in his repertoire. If their was a contest for late night sandwich making, or cutting up a dead body, Tony would win hands down. But a fight, Jack would beat the canole out of that motherfucker!!" The next few minutes, as we approached the theater, we had a heated debate about two fictional characters that maybe a group of 7 year old's would have been interested in.
As we get to our seats, my friend calling me a "prick" and me calling him a "product of inbreeding", I seriously thought my movie going experience would be ruined due to me disobeying my "going to the movies by myself" rule. But as the movie got started I realized that I was seeing something special, quickly forgetting about my 32 year old ass having a rather adolescent argument.
This movie, definitely Lee's most commercial movie thus far, is about how a gang of masked men take over a Wall Street-style bank in what seems like a simple robbery, but quickly turns into a hostage situation. The plan, as stated by Clive Owen's character(Dalton Russell) at the beginning of the movie, has been planned with perfection. From them neutralizing the camera's, their knowledge of where everything is, and how they deal with the hostages, it's obvious that they had their shit together. Denzel is brought in, negotiating only because the lead negotiator is on vacation, as a tough cop with a charisma and sense of humor usually not seen in movies like this.
Suddenly things take a swift turn when Jodie Foster's character is brought in on behalf on the banks chairman, to secure the contents of his safety deposit box, exactly what the robbers wanted in the first place. You don't really know what Foster's job is, but you get the feeling that her character is like a Karl Rove, "I'll bury a dead body, even kill a mouthy hooker just to cover your ass" type of person. The rest of the movie seems like a cat and mouse game between Washington and Owen, built in with plot twists and funny lines to please anyone who can honestly call themselves a movie lover.
With Lee's signature score in the background, the "Spike Lee shot" that he uses masterfully a few times during this film, his subtle dis of 50 cent in the movie, and dialog that flows effortlessly, it proves to everyone that Lee is on e the top of his game. Even though Spike didn't write this film, or the screenplay, he had his fingerprints all over this film. Like when a Sikh gentleman was let go by the robbers and was harassed by the police who thought he was a "arab". When he was going on about being harassed to Denzel's character, having his civil rights violated, and how he gets checked at the airport constantly, Washington's character says, "But I bet you can get a cab though!!" You can't tell me that wasn't Spike Lee at work. Also, in the brilliant "subtle casting" department, an actress named Marcia Jean Kurtz is in this movie. This is only relevant because this flick is being compared to "Dog Day Afternoon", is even mentioned during the film, and she was a cast member in that film.
But I will say this though, Spike Lee has it nailed when portraying black characters in film, something that all other film-makers should take notes from. He doesn't make black folks look foolish and stereotypical like those fucking "Madea" flicks, and he doesn't unconsciously cater to the racists out there by making his African American character's noteworthy professions an integral part of the movie("Something New") By witnessing Denzel's command performance you can see that Lee gets how to, flaws and all, depict African American characters with strength and pride without being heavy handed and corny.
4 1/2 stars
P.S I still think Jack Bauer would beat Tony's ass though.