Ain’t no tower high enough for a heist

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy head a star-studded cast in this crime comedy, directed by Brett Ratnor.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 20th November 2011, 12:30 pm

When a group of hard working employees at a luxurious New York hotel lose their pensions in a fraudulent scheme conducted by one of their own guests, the staff hatch a plan to get their money back, with interest.

The story follows the trials and tribulations of The Tower’s general manager Josh Kovacs (Stiller).

Kovacs is a middle-aged man of the people who is trusted with the day-to-day running of the complex. He works late, starts early and has a close bond with the hotel’s wealthiest guest Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda).

His relationship with the Wall Street businessman, who coincidentally owns the penthouse apartment boasting an open-aired swimming pool on the roof, is such that Kovacs trusted Shaw with the employees’ pensions.

But, when the billionaire is seen jumping into the back of a van trying to flee the city, their warm and friendly relationship turns sour.

Federal agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) confirms Shaw has been known to the authorities for quite some time, a staggering truth which knocks Kovacs off his feet, literally.

Knowing they will ever get their money back, Kovacs is charged with the responsibility of informing the staff.

Doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson) takes the news worse than others. Having known and opened doors for Shaw for more than a decade, he trusted the stiff with not only his pension but his life savings.

With fading dreams of retirement, Lester’s disappointment and mounting frustration builds up to the point where he attempts to commit suicide by walking out in front of a train.

Kovacs confronts Shaw, who has been placed under house arrest, and ends up smashing the windows of his red Ferrari in anger.

He along with the hotel’s concierge Charlie Gibbs (Casey Affleck) and bellboy Enrique Dev’reaux (Michael Pena), are subsequently fired for their part in the act.

The three of them and Mr Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) - a bankrupt businessman recently evicted from The Tower - put together a plan to raid Shaw’s $20 million safety net.

But where is the cash?

Not satisfied with their credentials to steal, the gang hire the services of Slide (Murphy) who is more than eager to get his share of the pot.

Murphy’s return to adult humour is welcomed following his years as Donkey in the Shrek saga.

And, in the whirlwind that follows, Tower Heist with Murphy and Stiller leading from the front, offers many laugh-out-loud opportunities as the would-be criminals go to work on the stiff who stiffed them.

Some elaborate ideas unfold and, despite a few holes in the storyline, it is a refreshing take on the Robin Hood theme - take from the rich and give to the poor - with Kovacs donning the green tights.

Similarities are also made with 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven, only with a more satirical twist, as the gang look to steal from an (almost) impossible place.

If you’re looking for a film which is going to have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, then this probably isn’t the film for you.

However, if you’re looking for a feel good popcorn movie on a rainy Sunday evening then you’ll do well to find a better one this year.

The characters are warm and each one offers something to the film, which never looked like disappointing.

by Matt Brooks