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INSIDE MAN ($30) is so much more than your typical heist/caper movie. Featuring a terrific ensemble cast of actors, an intelligently crafted screenplay by Russell Gewirtz and the assured direction of Spike Lee, INSIDE MAN is powerhouse entertainment that challenges the audience to think about what is happening on the screen instead just taking them along for the ride. Although the film’s timeline jumps all over the place, INSIDE MAN opens with the musings of Dalton Russell (Clive Owen), concerning what he deems the perfect bank robbery. The story then moves to the target location, a large, prestigious bank in lower Manhattan. A group of non-descript painters enter the bank and quickly disable the security cameras, before brandishing weapons and taking everyone hostage. The thieves’ carefully thought out plan soon has all of the hostages dressed in identical attire, right down to the masks that their captors also wear.

Not surprisingly, the police quickly become aware of the bank robbery in progress and resulting hostage situation. While the hostages are kept disoriented and locked in the bank’s basement, a mobile police command post is setup outside the building, with hostage negotiator Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) taking the lead. As the police survey the situation at the crime scene, Bank Chairman and Founder Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) takes the extra precaution of securing the services of a politically connected "fixer" named Madeleine White (Jodie Foster) to make sure that the contents of a particular safe deposit box within the bank remain untouched.

As the day progresses, Frazier begins running all the standard plays against the thieves, who have made all the standard demands, but then the detective comes to realize his adversaries have also read the very same playbook… and just stalling for time, while keeping their real agenda hidden within the smokescreen they have created. Like the characters on the screen, INSIDE MAN plays a game of cat and mouse with the audience, which keeps them glued to their seats, while slowly doling out the puzzle pieces of the criminal’s real agenda. The cast of INSIDE MAN also features Willem Dafoe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Carlos Andrés Gómez, Kim Director, James Ransone, Bernie Rachelle, Peter Gerety, Victor Colicchio, Cassandra Freeman, Peter Frechette and Gerry Vichi.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made INSIDE MAN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. INSIDE MAN boasts a truly top-notch 1080p presentation that is certain to please everyone sitting down to watch this vastly superior heist movie. Almost all of the time, the picture is wonderfully sharp, highly dimensional and bristling with fine details. Sure of the more artful shots in the movie appear less resolved, but this is an intentional effect. Colors are rendered at a slightly subdued level of saturation, which enhances the grittier qualities of the story. Blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp. Certain sequences in the film have a high contrast look, which intentionally differentiates them from the linear sequences of events, but for the main body of the film, contrast appears quite smooth. The elements from which INSIDE MAN has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. There is a modest veneer of grain within the image, which maintains the organic quality of the presentation.

INSIDE MAN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound on the Blu-ray is every bit as good as its impressive video quality. What impresses one most are the subtleties of the sound design, as INSIDE MAN is not awash in big action set pieces. There is a tremendous sense of presence and precision within the sound design that makes full active use of all the outlying channels to bring to life the world the characters inhabit. The sound is also highly atmospheric and features terrific musical integration. Speaking of the music, the lossless encoding makes this sonic component sing (pardon the pun), especially the music playing under the credit sequences. The bass channel is full, deep and authoritative. Dialogue is precise and easy to understand. English, French Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, Subtitles are available in English, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Spike Lee. Featurettes and other programs include: The Making Of Inside Man (ten minutes) and Number 4 (ten minutes). Approximately twenty minutes of Deleted Scenes close out the extras. INSIDE MAN is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

INSIDE MAN is powerhouse entertainment given a tremendous presentation on Blu-ray that jumps to the top of the demo pile. Absolutely recommended.



Inside Man [Blu-ray] (2006)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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