As one of the most distinctive and incendiary voices in modern cinema, Spike Lee isn’t usually the guy that major studios gravitate towards when they’re looking for someone to helm a glossy heist thriller. The filmmaker’s career has thrown up some all-time greats, but he’s hardly renowned for his track record of commercial success, and even Best Picture nominee BlackKlansman failed to reach $100 million at the global box office.
The biggest hit of his career by far remains Inside Man, which raked in $186 million back in 2006, something that can largely be attributed to the presence of proven draw Denzel Washington in the lead role. The movie marked their fourth collaboration, and the first in fourteen years since Lee directed the actor to an Academy Award nomination for his phenomenal turn in Malcolm X.
The plot of a grizzled veteran detective facing off with a gang of armed thieves has been done a thousand times before, of course, but a fantastic script from Russel Gerwitz elevates the material with some clever twists and turns, as Washington finds himself pitted against Clive Owen’s antagonist, while Jodie Foster is also on great form as a fixer with a hidden agenda tasked by Christopher Plummer’s bank chairman to prevent a dirty secret from becoming public knowledge.
By far the most accessible and crowd-pleasing movie in Lee’s filmography, Inside Man has turned out to be massively popular since being added to the Netflix library, and currently ranks as the tenth most-watched title on the platform around the world. The combination of Denzel Washington and crime thrillers has always been more than capable of drawing in viewers, and as one of the genre’s better entries over the last fifteen or so years, it isn’t a surprise that subscribers have been very keen to check it out.