‘Tower Heist’: The sweet taste of revenge

From left to right, Michael Pena, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick and Casey Affleck make up part of the den of thieves that plan to steal back their squandered retirement money.

Don’t we all just want to know that Hollywood gets it? That despite the seven-figure salaries their top stars make, Hollywood despises what “the man” is doing in this crappy economy just as much as we do? “Tower Heist” is certainly trying to make that case, with a plot that centers around a group of disgruntled apartment building employees who lose their pensions in a scam by the building’s arrogant owner (played by Alan Alda) — a very obvious nod to Bernie Madoff.

The shock and horror these employees feel gives way to the sort of revenge fantasy that we’ve been primed for ever since 2008. Building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) assembles a motley crew of fellow victims, and his neighbor, a professional thief (Eddie Murphy) to attempt stealing the money back.

With an obvious connection to “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Heist” is a bit less clever on the logistical details of the caper than the former film and its two sequels. “Heist” pushes itself well beyond the point of believability with its ludicrous climax, but we did say specify that it’s a fantasy, not high drama.

The performances are a mixed bag, if only for Ben Stiller’s on-again, off-again Queens accent and Gabourey Sidibe’s equally confused Jamaican accent. But it’s nice to see Eddie Murphy work with something other than a fat suit to get the laughs.

The film does its best not to insult the intelligence of the audience, while still serving up a cathartic moment in which we get to watch the victims of corporate greed get repaid for their losses. In a world where that kind of justice seems impossible, sometimes, it’s nice to be on the receiving end of some pandering.


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