Under the Radar

Heist Improv

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Tower Heist only appears to be one of those intricately plotted, ticking-clock movies about a group of misfits trying to make one big score. Instead, it's one long gag reel of the kind of jokey made-up-on-the-spot moments that filmmakers use to temporarily release the tension during the long, suspenseful robbery scene that's supposed to be the centerpiece of the movie.

That doesn't mean that Tower Heist isn't engaging or that its multitude of stars after stars (Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, Casey Affleck, Michael Pena and Gabourey Sidibe) don't have good chemistry with each other. It's just that director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, that terrible X-Men sequel) doesn't think you have the attention span for all the details that create the drama that makes for an actual heist movie. Or maybe Brett doesn't have the attention span.

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If you're obsessed with the details, this scene is about as specific as this movie gets with the planning.

The movie looks great, it looks expensive and it's not boring to watch but you'll watch the entire thing waiting to get nervous about the action. There's flashy business involving Steve McQueen's Ferrari (star of the original Thomas Crown Affair, now that's an intense, weird heist movie), a crane and an elevator shaft but the whole sequence is so goofy that's it's hard to believe it's the centerpiece of the robbery.

Fans of the tension in Steven Soderbergh's remake of Oceans 11 won't find much to like here, but anyone who thought Don Cheadle's accent in that movie was hilarious might just like Tower Heist.

The Blu-ray looks great, much better than the DVD. The digital downloads and Ultraviolet versions of the movie look muddy, as usual. Why are you still streaming movies to that 55" TV in your living room?

There's a making-of documentary and two "alternate endings" included. Neither of the alternates is more than 2 minutes long and they don't add anything to the plot.

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Building the Ferrari replica

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