(2006) dir. Spike Lee
I’d been reading some somewhat positive reviews of this film, Spike Lee’s latest, a hostage drama, a genre film. To my mind, Lee is an inconsistent but overall interesting director, and in some ways I think it’s interesting to view his genre films because, like the more traditional auteurist theory, the director as film author comes through even in some standardized formats.
The opening shots show promise, these city streets and building details of New York, Lee’s home and site of the bulk of his films, a strange, utterly incongruous parelleling with Woody Allen (hometown New York, idiosynchratic but diverse genre work, pumping out a film a year pretty much). It has moments.
In the end, the film is a mediocre sampling of its genre. And aside from political and race-conscious details that imbue all of Lee’s work, it’s not particularly or pointed political, any more than any other standard fare. Denzel Washington always seems like the same guy in every movie he plays, though I did not see Training Day (2001), in which he played against type. The cast is pretty good: Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Willem Dafoe. It’s not as strong as 25th Hour (2002) or Summer of Sam (1999). It’s really not all that much to talk about, really.
That’s not to say it’s bad or anything. It’s decent work for what it is. It just doesn’t particularly add much to my interest in Lee.