What’s the statue of limitations for remaking a good movie? I’d argue the 38 years between Star Wars and Force Awakens weren’t nearly enough. And 13 years wasn’t the magic time frame for Inside Man: Most Wanted to make anyone forget Inside Man.
It’s one of those no win scenarios. Inside Man was one of Spike Lee’s strongest films featuring stellar performances from Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christoper Plummer and Willem Dafoe. That’s a lot of talent with half with Oscar hardware and the others with Oscar nominees. Asking a relatively inexperienced crew to play in this sandbox wasn’t the wisest move.
In fairness, Most Wanted aspires to be more of a sequel than an original standalone story. But it can’t shake that feeling of being a watered down TV adaptation taking a movie premise and stretching it into a series. Inside Man had one of those clever premises that’s hard to capture lightning in the bottle twice. Doing so with unmemorable production, forgettable performances and lack of an entrancing score was never going to work.
Federal agent Brynn Stewart (Rhea Seehorn) and police negotiator Remy (Aml Ameen, The Maze Runner) lead a negotiations team effort to free the hostages at the federal reserve. They’re tangling with Ariella Barash (Roxanne McKee, Game of Thrones), a calculated mastermind that seems to be one step ahead of all of their negotiation tactics.
Screenwriter Brian Brightly plays the “If I acknowledge my inspiration no one can accuse me of ripping it off” card. Along with some pictures of Washington and Owen as well as references to the other characters, the filmmakers try to draw a connection that only serves to show Most Wanted’s inferiority. Most Wanted would have been better served following the blueprint of Inside Man and tell a more original story instead of trying to link the two films.
Brightly is basically asking viewers to remember that lavish four course meal while he serves up a frozen dinner expecting the memory to make the current offering more savory. It still tastes like a bad microwave dinner — uneven, cold — leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
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Whenever someone wants to do a biopic on Martin Lawrence they should call up Ameen. Ironically, the British actor seems to channel Lawrence’s Bad Boys co-star Will Smith with his demeanor and attitude. That was a better play than failing miserably at trying do a terrible Washington impersonation. Seehorn is fine and has the kind of screen presence that would make for a likable lead on a CBS procedural.
Swapping out Owen as the big bad for anyone was going to prove tricky. McKee is OK-ish, but the script does her no favors asking her to basically revisit Owen’s greatest hits in this role.
Director M.J. Bassett (Strike Back) goes with a no-frills approach, which robs the film of so much of its charm and style Lee utilized to make it more than a simple hostage heist standoff film. Bassett withholds some information to sell the twist at the end, but it’s done in a way that skirts logic and common sense. Imagine watching a sequel to Usual Suspects that played out exactly the same and the director setting up the film in a way as if you won’t see the ending coming.
Inside Man: Most Wanted offers few surprises and changes to warrant watching it. Just watch the far superior Lee, Washington, Owen and Foster collaboration again as it’s a few more rewarding and quality presentation.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures