This 70s-inspired crime drama, based on a true story, follows an undercover cop who infiltrates a mob organization. In the US, it was originally titled The Gemini Lounge, but for some reason, it was renamed Inside Man for the UK. However, it should not be confused with the 2006 Spike Lee-directed heist film or the recent Netflix show starring David Tennant. While it may seem like a copycat of better-made films, there is a noticeable obsession with Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas in its style, dialogue, and overall feel. Despite having a different plot and characters, it almost feels like a cheap imitation of GoodFellas.
The movie features various elements, including a setting among tertiary-level mafiosi who drive large gas-guzzling cars from the 1970s and run illegal activities. It also includes techniques such as freeze frames and a voiceover by Emile Hirsch, who plays the narrator-protagonist. Hirsch’s voice is reminiscent of Ray Liotta’s in GoodFellas, only a few notes off. However, the film differs from GoodFellas in several ways. Firstly, director and supporting actor Danny A Abeckaser is not Martin Scorsese. Additionally, the movie was made on a very small budget and mostly takes place on two or three sets. There was not even enough money to feature a song by the Bay City Rollers, let alone a Rolling Stones track, in the soundtrack. Furthermore, the dialogue lacks the musicality and confidence of GoodFellas, as well as its attention to detail and cleverness.
Despite its flaws, this film is not completely unwatchable. Hirsch, who is currently appearing in many low budget films, gives a solid performance as Bobby Belucci, an NYPD detective who is demoted to a desk job after attacking a man he catches kissing his wife. With his career in ruins, Bobby goes even further and assaults a man in a public restroom – a move that ultimately benefits him as it gains him the trust of local drug dealer Chris (Jake Cannavale), who was also involved in the altercation. Seeing an opportunity to infiltrate the Gambino crime family, to which Chris belongs, Bobby convinces his police chief (Bo Dietl) to support him as he goes undercover and becomes a part of their gang. However, he quickly becomes too involved and finds himself committing crimes just as terrible as the ones he’s supposed to be stopping.
Abeckaser’s clear enthusiasm for his cast is evident in this film, which features a talented group of character actors. They all embrace their outer borough accents and seem to be having a great time. While the story is primarily focused on male characters, Lucy Hale stands out as a bartender with a fondness for Bobby. However, the overall film feels like a copycat of a better version, almost like something that could be sold out of the trunk of a car by one of these characters.