After a Wall Street tyrant is taken into custody by FBI agents, the manager and staff of the high-rise building where his penthouse is located learn that he’s made off with all their pensions as well. Left with nothing to lose, some of the staff team up with a professional thief in hopes of stealing twenty million dollars stashed away in his safe.
Ben Stiller’s career was in steady decline until TROPIC THUNDER, a film in which his character (ironically enough) was pitched as an actor whose career was in steady decline. Personally I loved this clever or not so clever approach to things and since then I’ve been rooting for Stiller. It pained me to the soul seeing him fluff off another FOCKERS film as well as another NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, so naturally I was hoping for a step up with this film (as I am with NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH). I still don’t understand all the Brett Ratner hate as the man is good at bringing comedy and action together with the most unseemly groups of individuals. Sure, RUSH HOUR 2 and 3 shouldn’t have happened, but RUSH HOUR was fantastic, a film I still hold in high regard, and Ratner also did a phenomenal job on RED DRAGON and PRISON BREAK. If the only thing we’re faulting him for is X-MEN 3, then we really need to give the man a break, it’s not like it was BATMAN AND ROBIN people.
Now when it comes to making team efforts, Ratner’s choice of bringing Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker together isn’t all that different from a Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy combo (with a touch of FERRIS BUELLER). Tucker and Murphy are both great comedians, and though being known for raunchy comedies is always cool in my book, for some reason that seems to hurt these guys in the long run (see Martin Lawrence’s career over the past decade outside of the two BAD BOYS films and BLUE STREAK). I love Eddie Murphy’s comedy. Yes, I prefer old Eddie to new Eddie, but given the right character to work with is what it all boils down to. Murphy’s character here may be toned down a little, but his boisterous charisma is what sells half of this film. Murphy’s gruff persona is the glue holding this together and there’s more than a couple times we get a flash of old Eddie, which was enough for me. To his credit, Stiller is also on his game here, he brings a TROPIC THUNDER/MEET THE PARENTS sort of comedy that works and he and Murphy play off one another very well.
The storyline is touch and go. The idea of seeing more crooks in Wall Street may indeed be a little too much lately, especially to those who felt the sting of similar situations over the past few years. Though they do push this button, thankfully the consensus rests upon a bumbling OCEANS ELEVEN plot that tries to keep us entertained throughout. Now a heist tale about thieves is easy to swallow, and although suspension of disbelief walks on paper thin ice here, a heist tale about wannabe thieves overcoming comical obstacle after comical obstacle (the bits with the maid aren’t overly believable but they’re fun) does still have merit. The supporting cast weighs in on this aspect of the film heavily and I must say everyone does their part well. Tea Leoni may not be the vision she was in BAD BOYS but she’s still looking pretty good and lends a very cool angle to the story.
TOWER HEIST isn’t the comedy event comeback from Eddie Murphy some were hoping it would be, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction (and damn if he doesn’t look a day older than he did twenty years ago). Apparently Murphy originally wanted this buddy heist flick to be an all black event with him and his crew robbing Trump Towers. I’d have been on board for that, but such was not the end verdict. Now he wants to do the same thing with an alien abduction plot (crickets). I know, I don’t really get it either. There are actually a few things I didn’t get about this film; The whole deal with the car and how they move it, how anyone in their right mind would trust a client at the Tower to handle their finances or why the gang so blindly puts all their faith into a thief they barely know. The stealing initiation Murphy gets the boys to pull off is fun, but sadly most of the other laughs (especially the ones featuring Murphy) are given away in the trailers. Suffice to say, when you watch a heist film, part of the fun is retracing the steps to see how the plan began, changed and prevailed. You’ll have a hard time doing that here as many of these situations don’t make much sense and are supported by virtually zero credibility. I mean, MacGyver himself would hang his head in shame. Still, there’s plenty of laughs and fun locked in this tower so I’d still recommend checking it out.