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:: Tower Heist

Heist movies are one of the oldest genres in film so, unsurprisingly, modern takes can often be predictable, tired or purely unbelievable. Tower Heist tells the story of Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), a building manager at one of New York’s most prestigious luxury apartment complexes and a man whose job is priority number one in life. Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is an extremely wealthy, likeable and charismatic Wall Street businessman, residing in the penthouse apartment of The Tower building Kovacs manages.

Kovacs has a particularly good relationship with Shaw, until Shaw is arrested for running a Ponzi scheme, losing millions of dollars in invested pensions – including those of The Tower employees. Buckling under the pressure and guilt of his decision to invest his employee’s money with Shaw, Kovacs smashes up the windows of Shaw’s rare Ferrari 250, resulting in the firing of himself, his brother in law Charlie (Casey Affleck) and new employee Enrique Dev’reaux (Michael Pena). After Shaw shows no remorse for his own actions, threatens legal action against Kovacs and it becomes apparent that he will soon walk free, Kovacs convinces Charlie, Dev’reaux and former, newly bankrupt, resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) to stage a heist and retrieve a treasure of $20 million, hidden somewhere in the penthouse apartment. As problems begin to arise, they enlist the help of petty criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy) and safe-cracking building employee Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe). This team of misfit criminals also have FBI agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) hovering around and having being responsible for Shaw’s arrest, a romance between Kovacs and Denham begins to develop, thus creating even more problems.

As far as heist movies go, Tower Heist is similar to the Ocean’s Eleven franchise. The dialogue is funny, the star status high, the acting genuinely good and the plot original enough to not get boring, but familiar enough to be the perfect afternoon action/comedy flick. Eddie Murphy’s performance is a welcome return to his many straight talking, full-of-attitude roles from the 80s and similarly, Stiller manages to play the role of Kovacs straight and act as the rock for the other characters to bounce off. Broderick too, although playing a familiarly pitiful character, never fails to add humour and a sense of tragedy to the film.

The film certainly offers a good twist and some tense, action scenes and the thankfully, the ending is not just an easy and predictable “everybody wins” scenario. Tower Heist achieves what it set out to do – provide an entertaining, funny and original take on a tried and true, yet beloved genre.