Being cheated out of your life savings by someone you trust could make the most even-tempered among us angry and eager for payback. That’s the theme of Tower Heist, a clever movie about what happens when a group of hard-workers decide to rob the residence of the wealthy business man who was supposed to be investing their money -- but took all of it instead.
Is this another clichéd heist movie? No indeed. Tower Heist contains one of the most creative, suspenseful robbery sequences ever filmed. And fine ensemble cast members, including Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Michael Peňa, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Gabourey Sidibe, Stephen Henderson, and Téa Leoni, add their talents to a timely film about how greed run rampant can backfire.
Living in an ultra-expensive New York City penthouse apartment -- which is large enough to house a 1963 red Porsche as part of its décor -- billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alda) enjoys excellent service from the employees there. The building manager, Josh Kovacs (Stiller), has always admired Arthur. In fact, he’s the one who asked Arthur to manage the employees' pension funds. Imagine Josh’s surprise when he finds out that Arthur is under investigation for financial fraud and that all of his money and his co-workers’ funds are gone. But a glimmer of hope appears after a bold FBI Agent (Téa Leoni) tells Josh that Arthur may have a large sum of money stashed away in his plush apartment. And so Josh’s heist plan starts to take form.
Of course, Josh can’t pull off this heist without help. So he bails Slide (Eddie Murphy), a guy from his old neighborhood, out of jail. After all, Slide has experience as a thief. At least that’s what Josh believes. He then recruits other trusted co-workers (Affleck, Peňa, Henderson, and Sidibe) as well as one of the tower residents (Broderick) who’s about to be evicted. Unfortunately, serious obstacles face this motley crew. But fortunately for viewers, more than a few interesting surprises occur as the plan unfolds.
Under Brett Ratner’s (X-Men: The Last Stand) direction, Tower Heist starts out with a slow pace, then makes up for it with plenty of action during the robbery and tower climax scenes. The movie also boasts amusing interactions, especially when Murphy’s character challenges the wannabe robbers to prove they can steal something or assists Oscar winner Sidibe (Precious) as she works expertly on her important task. Peňa stands out as an overly eager member of the team whose confidence exceeds his knowledge; Alda projects conceit to the max as the villain of the piece; and the Stiller/Leoni pairing works almost as well as it did in Flirting with Disaster.
Because of the unusual nature of what’s being stolen here (which I can’t reveal without violating my film critic oath), the special effects folks and cinematographer (Dante Spinote) deserve kudos. Everything looks quite real during key scenes -- even though we know what’s happening on screen is more farfetched than Rush Limbaugh appearing as Santa Claus with the Rockettes during their Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.
While the film’s ending may not satisfy some viewers, Tower Heist proves once again that well-made movies about payback can be very entertaining.
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” for language and sexual content.)
For more information about Tower Heist, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.