Film Review: Tower Heist

tower_heistTower Heist is a mediocre film elevated by the performances of its very talented cast that will gain higher praise then it deserves due to said performances; especially because of Eddie Murphy.

The premise is a ripe and timely one that a lot of people can relate to nowadays.  The little man being financially raped by the rich man is at the heart of this story, and our country, as a group of high society hotel employees is swindled out of their life savings/retirement by a supposedly valued resident of their tower.  When the resident becomes a criminal and is placed under house arrest a few select employees decide that they will try and steal his fall back cash that he plans to live off of after his acquittal.  These loyal employees are no crooks though and they must enlist the services of a fast talking street criminal to help them get the money out of the tower.

If the film sounds a bit contrived already, that is because it is, very much so.  The film is full of plot holes and convinces that make it next to impossible to buy into what is going on screen; which is probably why they leave so much of what is happening off it.

The film’s structure and twists in the narrative make no sense, defy logic, which makes one wonder how the hell anybody thought this would be deemed believable.  It would be one thing if they tried to do something new, clever, or cool with the corners they cut, but the big set piece of the film doesn’t go anywhere nor ever get too exciting.  The film’s pacing is at least fairly quick and there are some good jokes/moments of humor thrown in for good measure, but this can’t overcome the aforementioned shortcomings.

The film would have been a lot worse off it wasn’t for the strong cast they put together and they certainly elevated the material.  A lot of fuss is being had over the “return” of Eddie Murphy in this film to his comedic roots that everyone gives him shit for abandoning when he started doing kid oriented films.  The fuss was worth it, as it is refreshing to see Murphy cut loose, but I wonder how well we would receive this performance had it come in his heyday of the 80’s.  Regardless, it is a good performance.  Ben Stiller does fine work in his straight man persona with a wavering NY accent.  He does get a couple of moments to get a bit crazy, which is when Stiller is at his best, but he does a nice job of leading the film along its rocky way.  Casey Affleck is practically wasted here as a loser deadbeat type, who somehow gets a promotion to top of the staff, and the character gives him nothing do to; besides arbitrarily showing up to save the day while completely pulling a 180 on his mindset in the film.  Michael Pena is also wasted, having been far funnier in every comedy role he has been in, and again like Affleck has next to nothing to do; besides act stupid.  Matthew Broderick is the only other character in the film that consistently gets a lot of laughs and it was very nice to see him get a good part in a big movie.  Alan Alda plays his part to a T and Gabourey Sidibe provides a terrible Jamaican accent for us to enjoy.  Téa Leoni is also quite good here as well but we don’t get nearly enough from her either; she pulls off the best accent of the bunch though.

In the end, Tower Heist is an uninspired premise with lackluster execution.  The talented cast keeps the film from being unbearable, maybe even a tad enjoyable while watching it, but the instant you start looking at things closely the film begins to crumble under assessment.  The actors can’t really be faulted here and, I will admit, they make the movie watchable in the theater.  I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to see this, but fans of Murphy should definitely check it out at home; he is quite enjoyable.

Tower Heist is a D+/C- while watching it

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