Tension: it’s the key to many a film, and this week’s wide releases bring three variants on that theme. We’ve got a hostage situation ("Inside Man"), class conflict ("Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector"), and a video game that becomes real ("Stay Alive"). What will the critics say? Well, for one, "Inside Man" is one of the year’s best.
Spike Lee is a director whose work has always been wonderfully unpredictable. With "Inside Man," he may have pulled off his weirdest foray yet: a heist picture. With a terrific cast that includes Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Inside Man" puts a spin on the "Dog Day Afternoon" scenario, with a group of sharp bank robbers who stay one step ahead of the police. Critics say this is a sharp genre film that is not only rewarding on its own terms, but manages to subvert its pulpy trappings with wit and skill. At 89 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s pretty excellent, "Inside" and out. And it’s Lee’s best reviewed film since the brilliant documentary "4 Little Girls," which scored 100 percent on the Tomatometer. "Inside Man" is Certified Fresh, and it’s the second-best reviewed wide release of 2006 (trailing only "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party," at 93 percent).
Well, you can tell by the way it wasn’t screened for critics that "Stay Alive" may not be alright, and it may not be okay, so you might want to look the other way. And "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" wasn’t screened for critics either, which means it may be hazardous to your health. So let’s play everyone’s favorite game: Guess the Tomatometer!