Saturday, 31 December 2011

Film Review: "Tower Heist" (2011).




The film's tagline reads "It's not just a robbery. It's payback". Which is precisely the plan in Tower Heist. This heist comedy film directed by Brett Ratner; written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson; based on a story by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and Griffin. The film follows Josh Kovaks, Charlie Gibbs and Enrique Dev'reaux, employees of an exclusive apartment building who lose their pensions in the Ponzi scheme of Wall Street businessman Arthur Shaw. The group enlist the aid of criminal Slide, bankrupt businessman Mr. Fitzhugh and another employee of the apartment building, Odessa, to break into Shaw's apartment and steal back their money while avoiding the FBI agent in charge of his case, Claire Denham.

Tower Heist began development as early as 2005, based on an idea by Murphy, who first pitched it to both director Brett Ratner and Brian Grazer years before the project was finally launched, that would star himself and an all-black cast of comedians as a heist group who rob Trump Plaza. As the script developed and changed into an Ocean's Eleven–style caper, with Murphy and Chris Rock both considered for the leading roles in this film at one point. Chris Tucker and Dave Chappelle were also in talks for roles at this stage. However, Murphy left the project. Ratner continued to develop the idea into what would eventually become Tower Heist, with Murphy later rejoining the production in a supporting role. Filming took place entirely in New York City on a budget of $75 million (after tax rebates), with several buildings provided by Donald Trump used to represent the eponymous tower. For the art of safe cracking, the producers hired a professional safe cracker, eight time world champion Jeff Sitar, to work with the props master to set up the dial lock for the safe cracking scene and coach Gabourey Sidibe on how to use a safe cracker's listening device and work the dial to crack the safe.

The film stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña and Gabourey Sidibe. The cast gave hilarious performances despite lingering on borderline predictable and formulaic archetypes of the genre. Comical as they may be, they didn't exactly bring anything new to the table. However, they managed to coast on the palpable chemistry amongst themselves.

Tower Heist is not a kick-ass addition to the comedy-heist film genre nor to Brett Ratner's career. It's a lightweight, but somewhat enjoyable heist movie elevated by its stars. The film is a frankly formulaic but raucously entertaining action comedy. It's not exactly heist fun amidst the break-ins, goofy characters, and flat comical relief. The action and stunt scenes are not on a par with those in Ratner's Rush Hour films. The film is a by-the-book comedy-heist film. This is a weakly scripted parade of set-pieces which aren't as exciting as the Rush Hour films. How sad that the once potentially good Brett Ratner is presumed to need to make thiese kinds of dumbed-down movies.

Simon says Tower Heist receives:


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