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Held me understand the twist of Inside Man
March 26, 2006 9:16 AM   Subscribe

I saw Inside Man with some friends last night, but I don't get it. Please help me understand it :). Spoilers inside.

It was a good movie, to be sure, but I just don't get it. Right up until the last minute before the movie ends, I thought I understood what was going on. Then it ended and I was left puzzled.

Here're the relevant bits that I understand so far:

*The owner of the bank was previously affiliated with the Nazi party and he doesn't want that secret getting out

* Jodie Foster's character is hired to try to get rid of the Nazi-related stuff from the bank owner's deposit box

* Clive Owen's character already found some of it

* After staying cooped up in his spider hole, Owen's character walks out of the bank but doesn't take the diamonds

* On his way out of the bank, he bumps into Denzel Washington's character, either by accident or design (?)

So, what's the twist? Why would Owen's character go through all that effort just to not steal stuff? Is Washington's character on the take? And who is the inside man? As a side note, I'm also interested in any "clues" that you noticed earlier in the movie which may have hinted at these secrets before they were actually revealed.
posted by Handcoding to Media & Arts (33 answers total)
 
Owen does take the diamonds, but he leaves the ring for Denzel to find. When Owen bumps into Denzel he puts one of the diamonds in Denzel's pocket, presummably knowing that Denzel won't come after him once he uncovers the whole Nazi thing.
posted by thrako at 9:26 AM on March 26, 2006


After staying cooped up in his spider hole, Owen's character walks out of the bank but doesn't take the diamonds

He did take the diamonds. He took everything but the ring to leave for the detective to trace. He left a diamond in the detective's pocket when he bumped into him on the way out.

Inside Man can refer to all of the people whp were acting like customers, but were in on it, or Owen who had to hide inside the bank for a week.
posted by haplesschild at 9:26 AM on March 26, 2006


He did take the diamonds.

Perhaps I misremembered that part, then ;). When he's getting into the VW Touareg towards the end, though, doesn't he tell his cohorts that he didn't take something? (I thought it was "diamonds", but maybe I'm mistaken)
posted by Handcoding at 9:50 AM on March 26, 2006


thrako and haplesschild have it right. Remember, when Denzel opens the safety deposit box after getting a warrant, the only thing in there is the ring and the gum--all the diamonds and the documents were gone. The diamond Denzel finds in his pocket and fingers in the end is from Clive Owen. (Remember the conversation they had about Denzel's girlfriend wanting to get married?)
posted by maxreax at 9:54 AM on March 26, 2006


When he's getting into the VW Touareg towards the end, though, doesn't he tell his cohorts that he didn't take something

He didn't take the ring--the Rabbi asked about it, but he left it as a clue for Denzel.
posted by maxreax at 9:54 AM on March 26, 2006


What was up with all the digging? Are we to think they tapped into the water and sewage lines?
posted by mzurer at 10:15 AM on March 26, 2006


They dug a latrine for him to use during the week he was living in his little cell.
posted by found missing at 10:22 AM on March 26, 2006


As a side note, I'm also interested in any "clues" that you noticed earlier in the movie which may have hinted at these secrets before they were actually revealed.

Not really a clue, but I thought it was kinda funny that in an earlier scene (before it was revealed which of the hostages were in on the plot) Denzel asked the rabbi if he knew anything about diamonds since he was looking into a ring for his girlfriend. As I recall, the rabbi kinda shrugged and said "sure," and told Denzel to call his cousin to get a good price.

memory might be a little off on this, though.

What was up with all the digging? Are we to think they tapped into the water and sewage lines?

Didn't a character say, "now that's a shithole" when they finished digging? i.e. it was for clive owens to poo in.
posted by neda at 10:24 AM on March 26, 2006


For a while, I shared Alex's confusion about whether the bank robbers got away with any booty at all. My 11-year -old son had to clear things up for me.

By the way, if you liked the movie's Bollywood theme song, check this out. It's awesome.
posted by barjo at 10:28 AM on March 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, and when Clive Owen bumped into Denzel on his way out of the bank, that's when he planted the diamond in Denzel's pocket. I'm pretty sure. I guess.
posted by barjo at 10:31 AM on March 26, 2006


Why does Denzel brings the ring to Foster and the mayor in a restaurant? What makes him think that Foster will advertise the info about war crimes?
And id I miss the part where Owen would tell what he intends to do with the nazi papers?
posted by bru at 10:34 AM on March 26, 2006


I thought the exact same thing: the film was good and all, but what in the hell just happened? I'm glad to see this is a common thought, rather than just my stupidity.

My gf said that the Owen fellow was related to the family the nazi guy stole(?) the nice ring from, but I missed his name at the start so can't be sure. Anyone?

I don't understand the giving the diamond to denzel thing either - there was nothing in the film to make us think he would take it, what with him being desperate to solve the case and all. Surely he would say 'oh, that must have been when that guy bumped into me (I think there was even a flashback showing this), let's go check the bank CCTV and see if we can't identify him'. No?
posted by Little Bravado at 10:54 AM on March 26, 2006


Why does Denzel brings the ring to Foster and the mayor in a restaurant? What makes him think that Foster will advertise the info about war crimes?

Denzel has an incriminating recording of Foster and the mayor.
posted by clarahamster at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2006


He intends to keep the Nazi papers as insurance against ever being bothered about stealing the diamonds. He mentioned it as "insurance" to the Jodie Foster character, when she was inside the bank, and Foster's character mentioned the same to the former Nazi when she met with him near the end.
posted by Tuwa at 11:39 AM on March 26, 2006


Denzel has an incriminating recording of Foster and the mayor.


No, Denzel has an incriminating recording of Foster and himself.
posted by barjo at 11:56 AM on March 26, 2006


barjo, AND the mayor. It was when they were all in the car together. We didn't see part of that scene.
posted by graventy at 12:49 PM on March 26, 2006


I'd noticed that too, graventy, and forgot about it. There's dialogue on that tape that we didn't see earlier in the movie. I'd wondered if it was intentional or if was a continuity error caused by some edits made at the last minute.
posted by Tuwa at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2006


I really enjoyed the plan. Done properly, the constant shuffling of the hostages would work to inhibit recognition of the terrorists.
posted by graventy at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2006


... former Nazi *collaborator*, actually. Not that that moves him any closer to being a good dinner guest.
posted by Tuwa at 12:57 PM on March 26, 2006


It was intentional. Just one more thing left out that we get later, I think. Without the mayor threatening him, it came off as a much less malicious meeting than it was. And it kept with the James Bond rule of always using a gadget that you introduce.
posted by graventy at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2006


Did anyone actually think that was them speaking on the bugs? I thought that was pretty weak. It sounded like a political speech, not a group of guys sitting around BS-ing over pizza.
posted by graventy at 12:59 PM on March 26, 2006


Ok, here are somethings I don't understand:

1. If no one knew the old man's secret, and he was willing to do anything to keep it that way - how did Clive Owen and his gang know about the diamonds?

2. How did the thieves know what the safety deposit box number was?

3. How did the thieves know the Nazi papers, providing a link between the old man and his youthful indescretions, would be contained within, providing useful insurance.

4. Why would the old man keep the diamonds and papers around. The diamonds? Over 50 years you would think you would be able to move them somehow? The papers? If they were mine, they wouldn't have survived the trip home from Europe.

Any help with these points is appreciated.
posted by delosic at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2006


Well 1,3 were prerequisites for the plan moving forward at all. Without that knowledge there would be no bank robbery/movie. Assume suspension of disbelief for this one.

2) If Denzel could dig up #2 himself, you'd assume that Clive could too.

4) Yeah it was pretty stupid of the man. Sell the diamonds, burn the papers and throw that ring to the bottom of the ocean.
But you could say he kept those around to remind himself of how he got where he was, and what he had to do to "rebuy his soul"

In any case, it was a really really well done movie. Fun and worth my money.
posted by stratastar at 2:13 PM on March 26, 2006


I think these are good questions, but if any of the answers are indicated (or even hinted at) in the film, I missed them.

Here's a possible explanation:

For the first three, I'd assumed the Clive Owen character was an "inside man" in more ways than one--that he was a former employee and had somehow noticed the curious gap in the records (the way Denzel's character discovered it). So I thought the character assumed (rightly) that since the gap in the records went back 50 years, it indicated a conspicuous, telltale care to keep the box's contents secret. (And, really, wouldn't it have been less conspicuous to number all the records consecutively, without gaps, and to have the box in someone else's name?).

My guess was that the rabbi discovered the bank owner's name in a bit of Holocaust research, and knew the man was still alive and quite well off, and that somehow he and the Clive Owen character knew each other, leading to the planning that led to the heist. (And it would take quite a lot of planning).

I have no idea how they knew there would be incriminating evidence in the box that they could use to insure they could get away with the heist, unless they assumed that since there were no records of the box whatsoever, it must be something the owner wanted kept even more secure and hidden than the usual contents of safety deposit boxes. As for why he didn't simply destroy it--

Without the paper and the diamonds, there's no heist and no insurance they'd get away with it. Also, without the paper there's no audience justification for the theft--they've simply stolen something very valuable from someone very wealthy, who may have worked quite hard to get it. Then, too, the heist went off flawlessly, and the characters were all (except for Clive Owen's character) not recognized by the police. And Clive Owen's character, though recognized by the police, also ostensibly (officially) stole nothing whatsoever.

So again, I think the documentation of the Nazi collaboration was necessary to insure his own safety from the bank manager. Which leads me again to think that he and the bank manager knew each other somehow. But it still leaves it unanswered how the group came to know about the Nazi collaboration. And it also doesn't explain why the collaborator held onto a document so clearly implicating himself. If he felt as guilty as he claimed he did, to Jodie Foster's character, why keep the spoils of his crime? If he didn't feel guilty, why keep the evidence of it? It doesn't seem to make sense but, then, not making complete sense is hardly uncommon.

It might just be a MacGuffin.
posted by Tuwa at 2:16 PM on March 26, 2006


D'oh! beaten by the stratastar. Crank it to 11.
posted by Tuwa at 2:17 PM on March 26, 2006


Maybe the rabbi was related to the people the rich guy screwed over.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:02 PM on March 26, 2006


Maybe the rabbi WAS one of the people the rich guy screwed over.

*raises eyebrows*
posted by graventy at 4:17 PM on March 26, 2006


How they knew about the incriminating stuff in the safe deposit box -- if you look closely at Christoper Plummer's character's secretary (who informs him of the robbery), she is in fact, the woman bank robber (can't remember her name). I think she was the one who got the dirt on him.

I think Clive Owen's character left the diamond in Denzel Washington's jacket for 2 reasons: One as a "gotcha!" and also because they'd had a conversation about Denzel's character getting married and Clive's character asked him about diamonds (what kind of diamond would he get) -- so also a little parting gift.

I still don't understand what Denzel Washington's character hoped to achieve by giving Jodie Foster's character the war crimes info. in the restaurant -- did he expect her to do the right thing and track down the info? Or was he letting her know he really has a marker on her that he might call in some day? Why did he give her the recording device? Was that a way of reminding her that he still had that on her?

Liked it.
posted by nnk at 7:58 PM on March 26, 2006


Now that's very interesting, nnk. I've been wanting to see it again just to look for the bank robbers doing whatever they're doing before we see the big reveal at the end. I didn't notice that, though.
posted by Tuwa at 9:05 PM on March 26, 2006


I dug the movie too - great script - but one thing really stuck out to me at the end. Didn't anyone look for Clive Owen's character inside the bank, after the heist? He didn't just disappear into thin air - he was obviously still inside somewhere.

Sometimes people keep incriminating stuff around because subconsciously they want to be caught.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:13 PM on March 26, 2006


How they knew about the incriminating stuff in the safe deposit box -- if you look closely at Christoper Plummer's character's secretary (who informs him of the robbery), she is in fact, the woman bank robber (can't remember her name). I think she was the one who got the dirt on him.

Are you sure? I don't see how that's possible. Wouldn't she be inside the bank when the robbery is taking place? And if she's inside the bank, how can she inform Plummer of the robbery?

I imagined that Plummer kept the diamond ring around because there was nothing else he could do. He couldn't sell it on the legal market--given the speed with which Denzel's character figured out where it came from, it must have been fairly ease to trace. Plummer wouldn't want to sell it on the black market, since that would leave him open to blackmail.

And that means that the only thing he could do with it would be to throw it out in such a way that it would never be found again. But doing so would mean extinguishing the last trace of the friends he betrayed; and after letting them die, he couldn't bring himself to extinguish the last trace of their memory.


By the way, at the risk of derailing, if you enjoyed the fact that this thriller gave you all the pieces but didn't connect the dots for you, you might also check out Ronin, which does the same thing.
posted by yankeefog at 5:58 AM on March 27, 2006


you're right, Yankee Fog -- I don't know how it could be, how she could get into the bank, except that I (and the friend next to me who I leaned over to and said, "hey, isn't that Christopher Plummer's secretary?" - and my friend, who is pretty sharp, said "yes." Not much to go on, I know) am almost certain. What about this, what if she told him before it happened and then slipped out and joined the others -- maybe a stretch.

It's worth seeing again just to try to place all the robbers early on. Probably would be better to see on video so as to be able to stop and start.
posted by nnk at 8:00 AM on March 27, 2006


I just returned from the film. The secretary and the robber are not the same person and in fact only share two traits: sex and hair color. They are not the same height, build, facial features, hair-length, or anything else for that matter.

Case keeps the diamonds for the simple reason that he regrets his past and doesn't wish to profit (further) from it. This regret seemed to be the base of his character and I see no mystery in him keeping the diamonds as a result. As for the papers, I'll buy yankeefog's angle on that.

Didn't anyone look for Clive Owen's character inside the bank, after the heist? He didn't just disappear into thin air - he was obviously still inside somewhere.

You mean besides the SWAT-like team that sweeped the building? Or are you suggesting that they should have somehow known about the false wall that was built?

Surely he would say 'oh, that must have been when that guy bumped into me (I think there was even a flashback showing this), let's go check the bank CCTV and see if we can't identify him'. No?

He was told by his chief to bury it. No one was killed; nothing was reported stolen; there's no reason for Denzel to pursue the case--he's already been promoted.
posted by dobbs at 6:04 PM on April 2, 2006


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