Monday, November 7, 2011

Tower Heist (Brett Ratner)

Comic actors Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy star in "Tower Heist".

With a half-engine steam of energy seemingly got from Danny Ocean's capers and John Mcclane's shoeless skyscraper escapades coupled with a fine comic establishment by way of the 'recruitment for a mission' treatment, "Tower Heist", though pure disposable fun and nothing more, is truly well worth your time.

Ben Stiller, with his usual gentleman approach to humor, is the sober center of the whole film while Eddie Murphy, in his pure ghetto ass glory, serves as the film's riotous catalyst for its scattered, language-driven comedy. With director Brett Ratner having successfully handled Chris Tucker's mouth in the "Rush Hour" films, there's no doubt that he can also pull it off with Eddie Murphy. Even more so that he has greatly incorporated considerably resonant dialogues into Murphy's character without going over-the-top.

With many actors in the film for the director and the writers to potentially play up a convincing chemistry, Ratner and company conjured up a nice balance among the chief players, with established actors like Casey Affleck and Matthew Broderick having their respective moments, while budding ones like Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Peña stealing scenes of their own. For some, "Tower Heist" may seem a bit too formalistic in its execution of a comic caper. Though that and a slight lack of climactic ingenuity may very well be considered as hindrances for it to achieve a certain uniqueness that will separate it from other films of its kind, its 'no detours' take on its narrative makes it all the more enjoyable and easier to take that at least, though stealing a car from a secured skyscraper isn't really what 'reality' suggests either, creates a vulnerably believable atmosphere where thieves may get caught anytime and that plans can be half-baked as best. No twists to spice up the character dynamics, no plot distortions to sweeten up what's happening and no far-fetched surprises for us to surmise.

For once, it's truly refreshing to see a film dealing with a big-time caper without complexities that were there just for the sake of surprise. "Tower Heist" captures what is 'enjoyable' without any plot pretensions and instead sticks with what the story is all about and what the characters are going to do. I'm just having a problem with the fact that the main antagonist isn't that well-formed as a character and too hands-off with what he's accused to do (securities fraud, especially inflicted to his own employees) that I consider having a bunch of laid off guys (well, and a hardened thief) storm his expensive flat and break glasses and walls to steal a millions' worth of an article a bit of an overkill. He's just too corporate and too thinly-introduced as a villain to be remembered and be taken seriously. For a film to succeed, a memorable adversary must be of the essence.

Sadly for "Tower Heist", it had its 'James Bonds' in the guise of Stiller and company but seemingly neglected the notion for a more crucial 'Blofeld'. The film had numerous high points, especially Eddie Murphy's scenes of comic tirades that may seem generic and over-used but admittedly never gets old. But as the film heads towards a potentially explosive 'climax', the part where I often ultimately weigh off a writer's talent in how he/she can properly wrap all of a film's happenings into one final justification, "Tower Heist" exhausts itself on its own ideas that it reaches a climax where the words 'lukewarm' and 'underwhelming' are written all over.

Maybe the film being all too linear is both its strength and weakness. With that, "Tower Heist" surely isn't a perfect heist film nor is it an excellent comedy film. But at the end of the day, "Tower Heist" mixed both genres in moderate amounts and as a result, created a finish product that may not be ideal representatives of either but nonetheless a film that has the ability to deliver just the right dose of adequate escapism, but one that certainly won't last that long.


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