With the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movements and Bernie Madoff pleading guilty in defrauding thousands of investors of their money in 2009, Tower Heist seemed to be the movie to reflect the zeitgeist of the current economic situation in USA. But to make a adventure comedy out of such thorny issues might not be such a good idea. I don't think it would be as distasteful as how a "foreclosure mill" firm mocked evicted homeowners by dressing up as homeless people at their company's Halloween party last year but still it's a reflection of what people suffered in real life and making a comedy out of it requires carefully delicate handling.
The other thing to look out for would be the return of Eddie Murphy in a live action film after the lackluster Meet Dave and Imagine That. Some had hope that it would be a return to form for his comedic career and early reviews had indicate that he is pretty good in this. Personally, the one that I am looking out for would be Alan Alda. I am a big M*A*S*H because of him and it's been an awful long time since I saw him on the big screen.
Last but not least, there's Ben Stiller and director Brett Ratner. Their movies usually entertains me without fail. Additionally with Casey Affleck, Téa Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Michael Peña and Matthew Broderick, it felt like Tower Heist is loaded to be a mini The Expendables. Let's just hope that Tower Heist would be able to better utilize the cast at hand and create an enjoyable heist movie out of it.
Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) has managed The Tower, one of the most luxurious and exclusive New York residence for over a decade. He is one of the best manager around and kept his staff under strict control. Then unexpectedly, they found out that Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), the resident at their penthouse was charged with frauds and held under house arrest in the swanky The Tower's penthouse. The Towers staffs are hit the hardest as Josh had asked Arthur Shaw to invest with their pension and it seemed that they are unable to get their money back.
Facing bankruptcy, Lester (Stephen Henderson), one of their doorman attempted suicide. Outraged by Arthur Shaw's unsympathetic reaction, Josh went on a rampage in Arthur's beloved Ferrari. That act caused Josh, his brother in law Charlie (Casey Affleck) and new employee Enrique (Michael Peña) their job. While drowning his sorrow with Claire Denham (Téa Leoni), the special agent in charged of Arthur Shaw's case, Josh found out that there's a large sum of money that has not been uncovered.
Josh then deduced that the money is hidden in the penthouse and he might know where the money is hidden. Enlisting the help of Charlie, Enrique and bankrupt businessman Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), they decided to rob Arthur Shaw. But realizing that they know nothing about robbery, Josh turned to his criminal neighbor Slide (Eddie Murphy) for help. They also realize that they need someone who can open safe and one of The Tower staff, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) happened to come from a family of locksmiths in Jamaica.
With Arthur Shaw getting acquitted soon, Josh and gang must carry out the prefect heist during Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. But the best laid plans don't always go as planned.
The real fun of Tower Heist began when the rookie thieves commenced their heist. The unexpected chain of events for the heist were thrilling and it was the most suspense that you can get out of a comedic entertainment. The satisfaction level for Tower Heist matches other recent good heist movies Inside Man and Ocean's Eleven. The only thing that marred the enjoyment of Tower Heist was ironically the slow establishment of the characters and events in this movie.
Ironic because it was necessary for the heist to work so well at the end of it. The viewers needed to root for the amateur thieves to make it enjoyable for the many twists and turns leading to the finale. But yet it was a rather bland and tedious build up of characters and the situation leading up to the heist (specially when viewers were already expecting the blue-collar employees to extract their revenge on the rich crook all along). The movie tried to make it entertaining by infusing humorous bits into the show but somehow it felt like an awkward blend of humor and real life tragedy. It came to a point where it might have been better if it was a serious drama instead. There were some funny bits with Ben Stiller, Eddy Murphy, Michael Peña and Gabourey Sidibe but Casey Affleck, Téa Leoni and Matthew Broderick comedic contribution felt a little bland.
While the comedic elements weren't at it's best, the thrilling secretive robbery was a page turner. It's not a well thought out heist but the fun lies in what went wrong and how they attempted to rectify the problem. The setup for the characters were done "well" enough that viewer will root for them to get achieved their heist so that the "Bernie Madoff" type of villain can have his comeuppance. There's some glaring loopholes in the whole operation but it was entertainingly executed that it didn't matter that much.
Partly another reason why the heist worked so well would be that in real life, those victimized individuals would likely be unable to extract revenge in such manner. In a way, it's pure escapism for those who seek justice in a society that favors the rich.
Among all the stars, I felt that Alan Alda performance stood out the most. In a limited role, he managed to capture the essence of what a "Bernie Madoff" type of con artist might be like. Someone who could befriends folks from all walks of lives, gain their trust and swindle them ruthlessly. The rest of the stars were right for their respective roles but in my opinion, it was Alan Alda that stole the show.
Tower Heist is an enjoyable heist movies. It suffers from a little slow start up but once the heist gets going, it was high octane fun. The heist could get a rather unrealistic and crippled by a couple of loopholes but it's easy to overlook those problems. Recommended.