‘Tower’ is an unexpected gem
Todd Miller | Collegio Reporter
I will just start by saying that this movie stars Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. You’re probably cringing but surprisingly, they’re cast in fairly serious roles and do quite well with them.
I expected this movie to be some action-comedy tripe that I would lambast here on paper.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-written, action-drama that took itself seriously (it still had some comedy, but used it sparingly and to great effect).
The movie starts by showing the main characters on a normal day. Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the building manager of The Tower, a prestigious apartment building in New York City. Kovacs runs a tight ship and keeps things moving smoothly.
Three of his employees are the front desk clerk, Charlie Gibbs (Casey Affleck) who is supposed to be fairly poor (though, we don’t really see any evidence of this); Enrique Dev’reaux (Michael Peña), recently hired as an elevator operator; and Obessa Montero (Gabourey Sidibe), a Jamaican maid.
We are introduced to Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), a Wall Street player who was living at the tower, but is being evicted, having lost everything in the stock market.
An attempted escape, which Kovacs first interpreted as a kidnapping, leads to Arther Shaw (Alan Alda) being arrested by the FBI. Shaw is a rich guest at The Tower, and he was accused of stealing money people asked him to invest, including the pensions of the entire staff at The Tower and the life savings of Lester (Stephen Henderson), an elderly doorman who wished to retire.
Kovacs confronts Shaw about it and breaks all the windows in Shaw’s fancy sports car, leading to his dismissal from The Tower, along with Gibbs and Dev’reaux, who had tried to stop him.
Kovacs plans to steal $20 million from Shaw, and enlists the help of Gibbs, Dev’reaux and Fitzhugh. However, the four soon realize they’re inept as thieves, leading Kovacs to seek help from Slide (Eddie Murphy), Kovac’s childhood friend and a known criminal in Kovacs’s neighborhood.
At this point, the movie does something I liked. Slide is trying to teach the other four how to be criminals while they plan the crime. Of course, things don’t go smoothly.
My favorite part of this, even if the solution is rather hackneyed, is the point where Slide says he has never dealt with a safe this advanced. It’s the perfect problem to come up, and I’m glad the writers included it. The problem, though, is too easily solved. Montero turned out to be the daughter of a locksmith and she’s able to break into safes. There was no prior mention of this, and it feels like the writers tossed it in so they could use the character.
The actual heist was entertaining to watch, too. I won’t go into much detail, but it is definitely the highlight of the film.
I will say that the group is caught, but that part seems incredibly fake. There is no explanation of how the FBI knew who committed the crime, so I was incredibly disappointed that they were caught so quickly.
I won’t say how, but despite being caught, they managed to basically get away with the crime (I’ll add that how they do it doesn’t seem forced at all). The ending is completely worth seeing after all the work to get there.
Don’t let the look of the movie scare you away as this is definitely worth seeing. Though it is not infallible, it is well written and does a good job of mixing action, drama and comedy. In a season with little else to see, “Tower Heist” is a great choice.