Aza’s 2 Line Review – Tower Heist (2011) – A Lifeless Caper Flick. I’m Still Waiting For The True Resurrection Of Eddie Murphy.

That’s a bit of a tough opener from me, I never wanted the review pages to be scathing rant boxes, Australia has enough venomous and completely out of touch film reviewers that I don’t need nor want to jump on that bandwagon.

TOWER HEIST, however, really threw me when I finally saw it – just for the sheer lack of anything in it. For me there just wasn’t any single element to it that worked – I didn’t find it funny (though I did think Gabourey Sidibe outdid everyone else in the film) and I didn’t find the whole “Heist” even remotely engaging or thrilling.

I can’t blame the cast, the script isn’t great but it’s certainly not bad and I am sure on the page it reads way funnier than what’s on screen. Everything that doesn’t work for me in this is all due to the director, Brett Ratner, or as we should all know him as – the man who gave the world the unforgivably awful X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. There’s just this air of insincerity that overshadows every production he touches that it sucks the life out of them.

With TOWER HEIST, Ratner is more concerned about making sure the ego’s of his two big name cast are stroked and they get their close ups and screen time. That any effort in making the film fun is lost to a plethora of close up stern Ben Stillers or motor talking Eddie Murphys. And that this device is used so regularly you just disconnect from the story and you don’t care about any of the characters at all.

It’s a hard act to balance screen time with a multi-caster like this – and comparisons to the far superior OCEAN’S ELEVEN are unavoidable – but Soderbergh’s insistence to keep things cheeky and fun in that movie is what has been missed here. Ratner has a wall of cinema talent in Affleck, Alda, Leoni, Pena, Broderick and Sidibe but they all seem to just “be there” as dressing for the two principles.

I noted that Murphy produced this as well and he himself has said he’s moving away from the family skew comedy arena where he’s been for the better part of 15 years. In this one, he’s trying to tap back into his old 48 HOURS shtick but whereas he was allowed to fly off the handle with vibrant foul language – he’s left restrained here. Let The Murphman Fly!

Credit where credit is due – this is one big scale production, the car set piece is nicely handled but comes way too late in the game to save the film, the actual storyline has some inherent intriguing drama and the NYC location is always fun to see on screen. I’d love to get a hold of the original screenplay to see how it reads as I reckon it would’ve been much more an enticing prospect.