Lowdown: The former manager of an elitists’ tower plans to rob it.
Brett Ratner might not be the best director of thrillers ever (see Red Dragon), but when it comes to action comedies he shines (see Rush Hour). In Tower Heist he stretches his boundaries from his humbler Rush Hour beginnings to include thriller elements with a heavy spicing of social statements. The result? A good movie, fantastic entertainment.
Ben Stiller stars as the building manager of The Tower, the most expensive residential building in Manhattan. That place does not only provide residence, it also caters for its payers’ every whim, and that’s where Kovaks (Stiller) comes in. Trouble erupts when one resident, a financial tycoon, turns out to be a corrupt scammer; not only is he looking like he’s going down, he's also going to take the Tower employees’ pension funds Kovaks gave him to manage with him for the ride. The dire news makes Kovaks lose it. He picks up the odd golf club and finds himself out of a job.
Kovaks may not be as rich as the residents of his former building, but he does have his discipline and sense of camaraderie intact. Together with fellow employees, a former resident gone bankrupt (Matthew Broderick) and a crook neighbor of his for extra inspiration (Eddie Murphy) he sets up on to implement this crazy plan of his. That is, the plan after which the movie is named. Kovaks has to be careful, though, because the police (in the shape of Téa Leoni) are snooping around and they might not like Robin Hoods.
One sorts of expects certain things out of a Ben Stiller movie, things like crazy comedy. Part of the reason I found Tower Heist to work so well is its “failure” to deliver on expectations: sure, parts of it are fun; sure, there is lots of good political incorrectness to enjoy; but ultimately, Tower Heist is more of a caper film than a comedy. A very good caper film at that, even if the caper details are not as well sealed as they normally are in proper caper films. We're talking about an Ocean's Eleven lookalike with a comic edge.
More than this, though, Tower Heist is a film with a clear socialist message on the need of the 99% to unite if they want to get their rightful share. A message on the incompetence of the authorities when it comes to the corrupt leaders of the financial industry that brought us the GFC. And perhaps a message to the revolutionaries amongst us to rise up and do what it takes to restore society’s health, even if the package comes with "breaking the law" included.
Gabourey Sidibe (famous for her role in Precious), playing one of the Tower's staff, steals the limelight in pretty much every scene she takes part in. Particularly notable are her attempts to win the “heart” of Eddie Murphy through anal sex innuendos disguised as lessons on how to break a safe.
Disclaimer: by now I’m unsure whether the scene is part of the movie itself or the Blu-ray’s supplementals.
Overall: For a non serious fun filled film, Tower Heist is a pretty serious one. It’s also good entertainment. 3.5 out of 5 stars edging towards 4.