Rolling Stone - 04/06/2006 3 stars out of 4 -- "Denzel Washington energizes the movie....[He] has the kind of star quality other actors would die for: unfakeable cool."
New York Times - 03/24/2006
"[Lee's] most polished and satisfying work in years....[Foster delivers] her wittiest, most relaxed performance in ages..."
Uncut - 05/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "While he slaloms around the plot's slippery hairpins, Lee relishes the interplay of character that pulses through Russell Gewirtz's screenplay, and a pedigree cast helps him to tweezer out the tensions and innuendos."
Sight and Sound - 05/01/2006
"Lee orchestrates the high-stakes drama with a slick adrenalised urgency that wouldn't be out of place in a multiplex actioner."
USA Today - 03/24/2006
"Exceptionally well written with clever twists and witty dialogue by first-time screenwriter Russell Gewirtz, INSIDE MAN is adroitly executed by director Spike Lee."
Total Film - 08/01/2006 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he first half's a gripper, twitchy and tense with plenty of nods toward modern urban anxieties..."
Ultimate DVD - 08/01/2006 3 stars out of 5 -- "Lee has managed to assemble a fantastic cast, with everyone from relative newcomer Ejiofor, to old-hand Plummer and especially Washington, as the slyly intelligent Frazer, making an impression."
Entertainment Weekly - 08/11/2006
"It's smart, twisty, and talky." -- Grade: B+
Uncut - 09/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "With a knowing nod to Lumet's DOG DAY AFTERNOON, Spike Lee shows he can deliver a straightforward heist thriller."
Wall Street Journal - 01/15/2010
"The screenplay, by Russell Gewirtz, operates confidently in action mod but is always willing to pause for an oddball encounter, a rambling story or a great, tossed-off joke."
His time as a director may have seen Spike Lee gently creep away from the controversial material that made his name, but he hasn't lost his eye for creating an entertaining spectacle; INSIDE MAN is a deliriously constructed crime caper designed to keep audiences guessing right up until the final moments. The plot, written by Russell Gewirtz, works from a devilishly simple premise and spins off on a number of interesting and creative tangents. Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and his partner Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are sent to deal with a hostage situation at a bank in lower Manhattan. Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) is a masked man holding a number of people hostage in the bank while its chairman, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer), worries about a secret document he has hidden in a safety deposit box in the vaults. Madeline White (Jodie Foster) is a sassy power broker who Case hires to enter the melee in order to get his mysterious object out of the box and out of the bank.
As Gewirtz gradually confounds viewers' expectations by threading neat twists and turns into the plot, Lee briefly--perhaps too briefly for hardened Spike fans--returns to the racial themes he overtly tackled in his earlier work. The director uses a number of visual tricks to keep the action humming, such as spectacular overhead shots and grainy, darkly hued posthumous interview clips with the hostages, but INSIDE MAN is essentially a fun popcorn movie executed with an intelligence usually lacking in the genre. While many of the themes--cops are racist, people in power are corrupt, the innocent are persecuted--may be hackneyed, it's testament to Lee's stature as a filmmaker that he manages to pull an engrossing and enjoyable romp from such ostensibly standard subject matter.