When a group of hard working guys find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man’s Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence.
TOWER HEIST is an enjoyable, forgettable, crime comedy starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. The premise is engaging – blue-collar workers attempting to get their own back on a Bernie Madoff style swindler. The view we get of the world behind the opulence of “The Tower”, where building manager Josh Kovacs (Stiller) works, is detailed and interesting. The comedic moments between the leads and their novice crime crew are entertaining. However, the experience as a whole is a little less satisfying than the ingredients suggest it might be.
The strength of TOWER HEIST is in its performances. Ben Stiller, for once, plays the straight man. Kovacs is not one of his self-entitled egomaniacs. This is a pleasure in itself. His portrayal of a quietly confident professional provides much needed grounding for this lightweight flick. Eddie Murphy’s plays small-time crook Slide. It’s a return to the kind of cocky, hustling role that made Murphy famous in the 1980s. For those of us still scarred by the awfulness of the Murphy vehicle MEET DAVE (2008), seeing him as Slide is a blessed relief. Also notable is Gabourey Sidibe in a cameo role as fiery tempered maid. Téa Leoni is wasted as an FBI agent. Alan Alda is excellent as the Madoff-esque billionaire Shaw. Shaw disguises his essentially high-handed attitude by playing the “humble beginnings” card. You definitely want to see this guy get his comeuppance.
The heist at the centre of the film isn’t on a par with the inventive cleverness of OCEANS 11 and the story also goes a little wayward when it comes to tying off loose ends. Casey Affleck plays the brother in law of the Stiller character and his function is never quite clear and exactly which of the staff at The Tower are in the know is also left somewhat loose.
Director Brett Ratner has created an efficient entertainment that delivers laughs and action exactly as expected. This is the perfect holiday fare for undemanding audiences who want to see the little guy square off against the rich and powerful. The ending of this film is surprisingly quick and a little unexpected.
TOWER HEIST opens in Australia on December 26, 2011. It runs for 104 minutes. I rated it 3/5.