Tower Heist (2011)
Remember those clever heist movies of the 1970s? Well, Brett Ratner obviously does. He probably also remembers Ocean's Eleven with fondness, but when he were to make a film in much the same vein, albeit from a slightly different angle, it seems he and his collaborators didn't trust their story quite enough to play it straight, and decided to add some slight and often unmotivated comedy for good measure. The result is therefore somewhat half-baked - and Tower Heist comes across as a somewhat unfocused and ineffective hybrid of an Eddie Murphy project (with everything that implies) and a traditional ensemble heist film.
One of the reasons the film ultimately turns out to be a little disappointing is that the onset is so remarkably crisp and promising. Alan Alda and Ben Stiller spark up the foundation for a great movie duel with some great sophistry in the film's first half, and as the filmmakers present the admittedly unlikely but still clever circumstances from which to spin their wildly over-the-top heist, the film is nothing but enjoyable. Then Eddie Murphy enters, and we're starting to lose focus. The film suddenly forgets the characters' integrity and indignation, and lets them play child's games with Murphy's one-dimensional character instead. Believability goes out the window, and so does ultimately a several tons heavy car with remarkably little effort from our anything but acrophobic protagonists. This is one of 2011's most impressive action set-pieces; it looks and feels so breathtaking that I'm almost tempted to overlook the fact that the elevators in this tower are able to hoist the said car without trouble. So much for the maximum permissible load warning signs.