Tower Heist (12A)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/11/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Enjoyable, nicely paced comedy caper that delivers a handful of thrills and some decent laughs thanks to strong comic performances and a witty script, though it's slightly let down by an underwhelming finale.

What's it all about?
Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), Tower Heist stars Ben Stiller as Josh Kovacs, the manager of a luxury Central Park hotel, who's able to keep things running smoothly because he takes the time to get to know both his staff and the guests. However, when the FBI (led by Tea Leoni's Agent Denham) come after penthouse billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), it quickly transpires that Shaw has stolen the entire staff pension fund after Josh entrusted it to him on the promise of high investment returns.

After getting fired, Kovacs realises that Shaw must have stashed a large amount of money in his penthouse, so he recruits some disgruntled ex-employees (Casey Affleck, Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Peña), a bankrupt former tenant (Matthew Broderick) and local criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy) to help him steal back what they're owed.

The Good
The ensemble cast play off each other extremely well, with each actor getting a chance to shine: Murphy (delivering one of his best comic performances in quite some time) is particularly good as Slide, sparking amusing chemistry with Stiller, while Broderick, Peña and Sidibe all have some very funny moments. Similarly, Leoni (who doesn't do nearly enough films – do more films, Tea Leoni!) wrings some unexpected laughs from her character and Alda is deliciously slimy as Shaw.

Ratner keeps things moving at a decent pace and maintains an engaging balance between character-based comedy and tension-packed spectacle. In addition, the witty dialogue is packed with good lines and the script does a good job of ensuring that we root for the heist to succeed, layering in engaging background stories for each of the main characters.

The Bad
The main problem is that having pulled off an impressive climactic set-piece, the script has nowhere else to go and seems to flounder as a result. Consequently, you're expecting a dazzlingly clever final flourish but it never comes and the actual ending is ultimately vaguely underwhelming (it also smacks a little of a test audience rewrite).

Worth seeing?
Finale issues aside, Tower Heist is an enjoyable comic caper that delivers both laughs and thrills thanks to a witty script and a superb ensemble cast. Forgettable Friday night fun.

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Tower Heist (12A)
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Content updated: 04/11/2011 00:03

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