TV Review - Inside Men

Warren Brown (left), Steven Mackintosh
and Ashley Walters in "Inside Men"
One of the best films Spike Lee has directed this past decade is Inside Man (2006), which was about a bank robbery that turned out to be more than that. Inside Men is a British mini-series whose bare bones could be similarly described. Written by Tony Basgallop and directed by James Kent, it stars Steven Mackintosh as John, the manager of a cash-counting house, a facility that stores large amounts of paper money for banks and retailers. Ashley Walters co-stars as Chris, the security guard whose best friend, Marcus, a laborer there, played by Warren Brown, comes up with a plan to steal £172 million from the facility.

The structure of the series is similar to that of NBC's recent adaptation The Firm. That series began with an intense, action-oriented scenario and then it would flashback to months before. Each episode was a piece or step that explained or returned you to that original scenario. The fourth season of ABC's Lost was also structured this way. For Inside Men, the scenario is the gang of thieves in rubber masks with rifles taking siege of the cash facility, which occurs in September. We're propelled into the anxiety, chaos and mystery of it and then we're slingshot back into January to see how it all began.

In four episodes, we ping-pong between 10 months, seeing the origins all the way through to the aftermath of this crime. The show does eventually circle and deliver us to where it started. Actually, it replays the robbery, which you see in the beginning. As I noted in my review of The Debt (2011), which also replays a scene within itself, the second time that the scene is depicted isn't tedious because it's layered with all the information we've gathered in the previous episodes. It's still thrilling, even when you know the outcome because we feel the other elements at work.

The characters are well fleshed out with their own motivations. All the actors perform brilliantly. The narrative is never boring. It kept me glued to the screen. It's very smartly written. It's not melodramatic. It feels very real. Even the secondary characters like the women in each of the men's lives are well done too and get some pretty good material, if not as much.

For example, Kierston Wareing who was in Fish Tank (2010) and like Steven Mackintosh and Warren Brown was also in the highly-acclaimed, British series Luther plays Gina, Marcus' love interest. Gina is like a Lady Macbeth and Wareing plays her well. Irfan Hussain who plays Kalpesh, the leader of the "outside men" gets a great bit to chew also.

I simply did not find a single thing wrong with this TV show. As far as crime dramas go, I would rank it up there with Breaking Bad or Justified.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Available on Demand
via BBCAmerica or Amazon Instant


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