Heist movie fails to light up the screen

2011-11-07 00:00

WHEN in doubt you can generally go for a heist movie. Inherently they’re light-hearted, witty movies with some interesting sequences and at least one big twist along the way.

In recent years Oceans 11 immediately springs to mind. Tower Heist is pedestrian by comparison. It’s okay and has a few laughs, but overall Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) has put together a rather mediocre outing for Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy (though the former is the lead and the latter is merely part of an ensemble).

The setting for the action is a top-class Manhattan residence where apartments start at $5 million. The penthouse is occupied by multi-millionaire stockbroker Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) — think along the lines of Bernie Madoff.

Shaw is catered to at every level by The Tower’s staff, including Charlie (Casey Affleck), Enrique (Michael Pena), the doorman Lester (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and the hotel manager Josh (Ben Stiller). Their world is overhauled with the arrival of FBI Special Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni), who announces that Shaw is charged with multiple counts of fraud and has squandered all of their investments.

Josh hatches a vengeance strategy to recoup the money lost by pulling a Robin Hood, a plan which involves small-time thief Slide (Murphy).

Given the calibre of the cast and the quality trailer, one would expect more from this film. The relationship between Stiller and Murphy isn’t given enough screen time, which to me seemed like the crux of the whole thing. Ratner has a portfolio of average performances after a similar outing in the Rush Hour series and After The Sunset. In this instance, if you’re a paying customer expecting big things from this movie, it’s title is apt. **

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