spike lees latest explores a perfect bank robery perpetrated by a gang so organized by their leader dalton russell, played by clive owen, that everyone ends up confused. its a bluff within a bluff. the crew enter a bank posing as painters, take control of the bank within minutes, and sequester the patrons in an airtight manner. nypd hostage negotiators frazier (d.washington) and mitchell (c.ejiofor) take over the scene to try and end the hostage situation. they work with esu cpt darius (w.dafoe) to try to end the hostage crisis.
however, all doesnt go according to plan. russell is a most clever opponent, unflinching, and uncannily sticking to his meticulous plan without deviations. he wistfully confuses the hostages as well as the authorities, enough so that the situation looks like its spiraling out of control. the robbers seem to always be a step ahead of the cops, fooling frazier as a grandmaster of chess fools his apprentice at every turn. things take a surprising turn when the banks chairman arthur case (c.plummer) hires a shadowy power broker and influence peddler madeline white (j.foster) to request a meeting with russell.
with new questions arising at every juncture, frazier and mitchell try to outwit the robbers, but seem impossible outclassed. as frazier starts to suspect other organizations acting with their own objectives.
the whole bank robbery doesnt revolve around money or a heist. it revolves around an enveloppe that contains incriminating evidence, that the crew want to absolutely lift. in a most spectacular way, this addictive thriller leaves you wondering what will happen next, and when it unfolds, it surprises you. lee is able to twist the premise of a simple bank robbery movie into something else, that still is able to examine economic classes and race.