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Director Spike Lee uses a complex narrative structure for the story which is about an apparently ordinary yet mystery robbery committed by a gang of 4 led by Dalton Russell (Clive Owen). The narrative branches into a 3-plot structure namely, (1) the chasing plot of detectives of Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the police, (2) the gang inside the bank, (3) the deal between Madeline White (Jodie Foster) and banker Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) with the whole film entailing many flash-forward sequences for police's investigation on the freed hostages.
Lee adopts an atypical narrative structure and filmic elements that are not commonly expected in the thriller and cop genre by (1) using flash-forwards in perpetuating the audience to re-formulate the hypotheses about the story; (2) using a rhetorical mode (character talking directly to the audience) for Russell, the gang's leader, in expounding his plan; (3) having the robbery ended well before the denouement and thereby leaving a 30 minute sequence for following-up the case outside the robbery locale; (4) resorting to the minimal use of violence and gun fires; and (5) building a counter-climax for the film (watch how it is done).
The theme depicts the complicated and mystery relations among the key characters and hence establishes high suspense and tension down the plots under restricted narrative. The flash-forward produces effects that alternatively set off and halt the hypotheses of the audience who then re-formulate the hypotheses upon receiving new clues from the flash-forward plot. The story explores and connotes the multi-faceted role and interest of individuals in the materialistic commercial world. Many dialogues are epigram like and derisions of the Western world with reference to race discrimination against the coloured minority, nationals from the Middle East in particular. All the 3 key characters stage very well though lady White's role limits Foster's spectrum of staging. It is a must see film for movie-goers of the thriller genre.
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