"Tower Heist": Action Caper Is Funny, Fleet, and Inconsequential

A revenge of the have-nots playing on the clear class stratification of the luxury high-rise, Tower Heist pits lobby against penthouse. At The Tower, an exclusive Columbus Circle apartment building, top-floor investor Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) stands accused of financial malfeasance by the FBI, leaving building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) to inform his staff that Shaw was managing all of their pensions, which have now evaporated. Determined to make things right, Josh decides to steal the emergency fund he's sure Shaw has squirreled away, and so he assembles a team of equally unqualified employees (Casey Affleck, Michael Pena), an ex-financier (Matthew Broderick), and a small-time thug bailed out as criminal consultant (Eddie Murphy) to break into the penthouse, where Shaw has been put on house arrest, and liberate the cash. As a heist picture, Tower Heist is as amateur as its crooks: The scenes where you'd usually be drilled on the plan of action are all about the ensemble's round-table riffing, highlighting the good supporting work. An affable, crowd-pleasing director with his hugely successful Rush Hour franchise, director Brett Ratner is at times near to crowd-pandering here, but this is a clean, well-turned job, fleet and funny and inconsequential. It gets in and gets out quickly ... and leaves no trace once it's gone.

 
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