Cast: Denzel Washington (Detective Frazier), Clive Owen (Dalton Russell), Christopher Plummer (Mr. Case), Willem Dafoe (Captain Darius), Jodie Foster (Madeline White), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Detective Mitchell)
Director: Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X, School Daze, Jungle Fever)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about a bank heist.... or is it? Nothing is what it seems in this film. That's all I'm giving away about the plot.
Why you should watch it: The idea of the "thriller" movie or the "whodunit" movie has sort of gone by the wayside, so it's always refreshing when a film allows us to use our minds. While the masses may be content to be bashed repeatedly over the head by the Michael Bays of the world, this film puts the onus on the intelligence of the viewer. This isn't something I'd normally say about a Spike Lee film. Nothing against him, but Lee is of the status in Hollywood that he can proselytize as much as he likes - he's earned that right. Sometimes a movie without an agenda is just what the doctor ordered. Lee is famous for putting some exceedingly thought-provoking films in the canon - just rewatch Do the Right Thing if you forgot how good he is/can be - but sometimes he can buy into his own self-importance. This isn't one of those times.
The cast is filled with some usual Lee cohorts, most noticeably Denzel Washington. Washington is his dependable self, playing the role of lead Detective with confidence. Clive Owen, one of my favorite actors, is outstanding in the role of lead robber. Willem Dafoe is uncharacteristically restrained in his role of police captain. Jodie Foster is the only actor who may seem slightly out of place, but this is only my opinion.
The action is taut and quick, so you have to pay attention. If I were to put this film in comparison to another, I'd go with The Usual Suspects, in that you'll have an "a ha!" moment (or two or three) after the conclusion. Like I said, the movies are an escape, to be sure. When movies allow us to explore intellectual possibilities, like taking an exam that we actually enjoy, it increases the enjoyment ten-fold. Let's be honest - the weather really really sucks this weekend. Get this movie, make some popcorn, plant yourself on the couch under a blanket or two, and enjoy. You'll be glad that you did.