This new Spike Lee Joint is a corker. The tale of a tense bank robbery stand off, a war of wits between Clive Owen (robber) and Denzel Washington (cop) simply smokes from first frame to last. The script, (by first-timer Russell Gewirtz) never really takes a misstep. The only real complaint I can see is that, with this much star-power (the supporting cast includes Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe, all terrific) one might expect more…hmmm, shall we say “meaning”?
But it’s there, because Spike can’t help it, although he is less polemical here than in almost anything else he’s ever done. His direction is clean, smart, efficient, sexy—whatever it needs to be, whenever he needs it.
And the script is clever. Too damned clever for a first timer (darn that Gewirtz!). What you have here is a programmer, a studio entertainment that engages on every level, where every line works, and all performances are, at the very worst, just fine, thank you. Is it a classic? Probably not, unless you take a look at its commentary on ethnicity in America in the 21st Century…in which case there is really quite a bit going on beneath the surface. The heck with it: don’t expect too much, and just have a terrific time at the movies.
Saying anything else would spoil the fun. This one gets an “A.”
Friday, March 24, 2006
Posted by Steven Barnes at 4:27 PM