This week I went to see the new Spike Lee movie Inside Man, which starts Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster. Lee is known for his controversial social justice issue-themed movies. But if you've seen trailers for Inside Man, you know that the movie appears to be a typical action/thriller movie. Lots of commentary and critique/review beforehand mentioned this surprising change in genre for Lee, wondering and speculating (correctly) that this more mainstream movie would earn Lee his biggest box-office opening yet.
I really enjoyed the movie, on many levels. The acting was excellent. Clive Owens does smug so well. Jodie Foster took on a different character than I have seen from her in other movies, and Denzel Washington is always fabulous. But the plot was the best - better than I expected. The movie is not as mainstream as the trailer looks, and I didn't think it was completely predictable.
Also, I thought Lee included a good deal of social commentary, just in very subtle ways. Race and racism come up a lot in the movie - not as major plot points, but as parts of conversations, part of the setting of the film. I liked this - isn't it how we experience race and racism everyday? For many people, I think that experiences of racism or experiences of being racist aren't typically big, one-time events, but the little, on-going things, that are part of our day to day experiences of life. Easy to ignore, if we experience just passing comments, minor incidents in the scheme of things, right? The only danger with Lee's approach is that we can pass over the commentary in his film as well, because it is so subtle.
As a side note, I thought the soundtrack was great. Part of another theme of the film as a whole: we live in a global community. All kinds of people from all kinds of places and backgrounds. We live together, and will have to continue to live together. How will we do it?