Tower Heist

Tower Heist PosterRating: ★★☆☆☆

Tower Heist” is a robbery movie like many others. Here is a sub-genre so mindlessly recycled that films within its category are mainly differentiated by the intellectual capacity of its characters. Develop your heroes as smart individuals, and you’ve got a thriller. Gather a group of idiots, and you’re set for a comedy.

The crooks in “Tower Heist” are so hopeless that, to them, the phrase “Like Stealing Candy from a Baby” would be more of a challenge than an idiom. So incompetent are these chumps that they’d fail at conquering a 7-Eleven with a tank. Yet here they are, plotting to rob millions of dollars from a luxury hotel equipped with, and I quote, “the most advanced security systems.” We begin to doubt this claim when we notice nothing beyond the typical surveillance cameras that’s being kept in check by The Preoccupied Security Guard. His watchful eyes beam at the pages of Playboy, instead of the monitors.

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in Tower HeistBut forget about the security system. The story, which has potential for a fun, escapist comedy, is let down by lazy writing that ignores the possibilities of its premise. One instance that supports this point is the sequence where our heroes are tasked to shoplift from a store in the mall. Each of them enters a different shop. They look for an item, take it, walk away, and that’s it. We sense that a lot more could have been done with this idea if it were handed to a zanier director, like Adam McKay (“Anchroman”). Brett Ratner, commonly known as a crappy director and a narcissistic asshole, is just showcasing the former description.

“Tower Heist”, directed by Brett Ratner, centers around a deluxe high-rise, the hard-working staff that maintains it, and the wealthy tenant who lives in the topmost floor. The rich man is Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who is facing legal battle after losing the pension of the hotel’s staff in a Ponzi scheme. The building’s manager, Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), is enraged. Determined to recover the pension of the employees, including his own, Josh summons his inner criminal mastermind in a mission to revenge steal from Shaw.

In urgent need of a team, Josh recruits the expertise of a clueless concierge and an elevator operator who once worked at Burger King. He takes a long, sad look at his companions. Not good. Josh approaches an experienced thief named Slide (Eddie Murphy), hoping that he could attain some consultation and partnership. The character of Eddie Murphy allows him to relive the kind of humor that established his reputation as a comedian. But the mistake that “Tower Heist” commits against him is that they never give Murphy the screen time he deserves. We get a peak at what he used to be and can be again, but we never really get there.

Michael Pena, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, and Casey Affleck in Tower HeistWe eventually arrive at the day of the heist. In its most crucial and unexpected circumstance, our heroes find themselves facing a dilemma that would stump Danny Ocean. But they press on. Josh, Slide, and team must lower a solid gold car from the top floor of the high-rise.

At one point, we see the car suspended out a window, just waiting to be seen by anyone with functioning eyes. But it seems that nobody ever looks up nowadays. Because these happenings are detached from the rest of reality, very little excitement is accomplished.

If “Tower Heist” offers any consolation, it’s the hope that it brings to the career of Eddie Murphy. It’s about time he stepped away from his fat suits. This aging comedian is headed in the right direction, which is the direction opposite to what Adam Sandler is currently in.

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Tower Heist