Review: Tower Heist

The perception of director Michael Bay as the personification of crass Hollywood commercialism seems to me to be grossly unfair. The man has a vision. It may be a dark, soulless vision but it is a vision nonetheless.

He's an Eisenstein nurtured by corporate culture rather than socialism and at least he doesn't pretend to be an artist.

Beneath him are a whole layer of slapdash hacks whose artistic vision doesn't extend beyond the beam of the headlights on their new Ferrari.

Tussling with McG for the title of The Hack of All Hacks is Brett Ratner. He's a man who will eulogise in interviews about 70s cinema and directors like Hal Ashby but he directs as though the company has just gone bankrupt and he's been appointed by the receivers to complete the job as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Neatly timed for the double dip, Tower Heist takes a cheap ride on the back of public resentment at big business.

Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) manages one of the most luxurious and tightly secured residences in New York. He has been in charge for more than 10 years and proudly takes care of his staff. However, Josh entrusts the staff's pensions to venerated Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who lives in the penthouse suite. It transpires that Arthur is a crook and he is placed under house arrest after he is caught stealing two billion dollars from his investors.

Convinced that the money must be hidden somewhere within Arthur's condo, Josh approaches petty criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy) to plot the perfect heist before the Wall Street magnate flees the country.

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The plot is far-fetched and, although this doesn't necessarily have to be a deal breaker, it is unimaginatively ridiculous and the film isn't funny or gripping enough to cover for it.

You hang in there hoping that the heist will save it but that's even more ridiculous than the rest of it. The cunning plan seems to be to get in and out of the building through any one of the enormous plot holes.

Stiller is one of that tranche of comedy leading men (other examples are Steve Carell, Jason Bateman) who resemble downsized double acts, the cutbacks leaving only the straight man to hot desk both roles. They're proficient but you need someone else to make a movie really fly. Unfortunately, Eddie Murphy's performance is a shadow of the ones which made him great, delivered without spirit or gusto.


Dir: Brett Ratner

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda

Length: 104 minutes