"It's not just a robbery. It's payback," reads the tagline for an upcoming caper plot in which we are reminded of the dangers of taking things at face value. An all-star cast leads this adventure in Tower Heist.
Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the very driven General Manager of a high-end apartment tower in New York. He is very good at his job because he is very close with all the tenants, especially successful investor Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) who lives in the penthouse suite on the top floor. But when he is arrested for fraud and Kovacs discovers that all of the tower's employees now have no pensions as a result of investing with him, Kovacs feels betrayed and decides to get even. Bringing together a few employees (Casey Affleck, Michael Pena and Gabourey Sidibe) as well as a depressed and broke ex-tenant (Matthew Broderick) and a jive-talking street criminal (Eddie Murphy), Kovacs orchestrates a robbery of multi-story proportions while becoming imminently cosy with FBI Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni). Much of the film's plot is devoted to an elaborate set-up involving Kovac's very Father-and-Son-esque relationship with the snide businessman Shaw, as well as each of the supporting character's overtly dramatic flaws and weaknesses. Where most might argue that this wastes time in a comic story, here it adds to the development of it. When it finally comes to initiating the plan, we want more than anything for them to succeed and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
Brett Ratner - who is probably most well-known for directing the Rush Hour film series as well as X-Men 3: The Last Stand  – decides to tell the story as it is, rather than paying attention to inconsistent pace like you might find with most action-comedies that are so concerned with getting to the action that most dramatic meaning is lost. In Tower Heist the pace is quite consistent and this won't sit right with everyone, however it is kept interesting with some great funny moments and a dynamic range of characters all portrayed strongly by a reputable cast and a few subtle references - the relationship between Stiller and Murphy should remind viewers of the Rush Hour films. Unfortunately though, the very effective and entertaining build up is undermined by a somewhat sloppy and circumstantial climax (if you can even call it that). It really needed a bit more in the last 15 minutes.
With a cool kind of slickness to it, Tower Heist is a fun caper story that will please most audiences and is a good enough reason to go to the pictures on Boxing Day.