Meet ‘Tower Heist’, A.K.A. the poor man's ‘Oceans 11’ - which also just happens to have been written by ‘Oceans 11’ scribe, Ted Griffin. This all-star cast, lead by Ben Stiller and under the direction of Brett Ratner ('Rush Hour', 'X-Men: Last Stand') is the comedy/actor caper for those of you out there who have already seen/don’t want to see ' Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol'.
The film sees a group of employees at an exclusive New York apartment tower, try to rob its number one resident after he steals their retirement fund. And let the wackiness begin!
While the cast is no ‘New Year’s Eve’, the film's star-meter is still pretty high, boasting the likes of Alan Alda, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Tea Leoni, Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Pena.
As performers, we’ve seen them all carry a film and carry it well - some better than others, with Sidibe being nominated for an Oscar for her role as 'Precious' in the 2009. Yet as a team, no-one seems to know their place in the hierarchy, and therefore deliver overly restrained performances, the result being a lacklustre film.
The laughs are few and far between, with most already given away in the trailer. The “heist” takes almost half the film to get to, and once we’re there, it’s clunky and frustrating.
This outcome was quite surprising considering Ratner was at the helm of his previous action/comedy experience - the highly entertaining and successful 'Rush Hour' films - as well as working with highly strung, over-the-top actors. Stiller’s comedy and leadership skills didn’t do anyone any favours either, failing to steer his cast-mates in the right direction.
Highlights are Alan Alda as the “infallible” billionaire Arthur Shaw, the villain our group of would-be thieves are out to get. Alda’s character comes at the perfect time, and hits close to home as all media reports on stories of the Occupy movement. It’s also good to see Murphy back, doing what he does best - talking fast, sassy and taking names. However, his small-time crook character Slide is barely seen in the first half of the film, and his presence in underutilised in the second.
Representing the females along with Sidibe is underrated comedienne Tea Leoni as a feisty FBI agent and romantic interest for Stiller’s tower manager, Josh.
While underwhelming, ‘Tower Heist’ still has its moments. It’s an entertaining yarn for those looking for light entertainment these Christmas holidays.