Inside Man (2006)
A police detective, a bank robber, and a high-power broker enter high-stakes negotiations after the criminal's brilliant heist spirals into a hostage situation.
From a cell, a man tells us he has planned the perfect bank robbery; he invites us to watch. An efficient gang enters a Manhattan bank, locks the doors, and takes hostages. They work deliberately, without haste. Detective Frazier is assigned to negotiate, but half his mind is occupied with the corruption charges he is facing. The bank's president has something to protect in a safe deposit box, so he brings in Madeleine White, a high-power broker with a hidden agenda. With an army of police surrounding the bank, the thief, the cop, and the plutocrat's fixer enter high-stakes negotiations. Why are the robbers asking for a plane, if they are so competent and they know they won't get one? Why aren't they in more of a hurry? If the job's perfect, why is the thieves' leader in a cell?
- Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) speaks into a camera, recording a description of the crime he has taken part in. He says that he is "stuck in a tiny cell" (we see a small portion of this cell, and Dalton writing in a journal and doing push-ups), and that he recently executed a bank robbery. He describes the who (himself), the what (the robbery), the where (his current location in 'a tiny cell'), the when (recently) and the why (because he can). He says the only question remaining is how the robbery was completed.
A man gets into a Chevrolet Express van parked next to the Coney Island Cyclone. The driver is shown driving through Brooklyn, making a streetside pickup for another painter. The van then enters Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge and picks up a final passenger in Chinatown, before parking the van outside a branch of the Manhattan Trust Bank at 20 Exchange Place near Broadway and Wall Street. The driver and passengers are dressed alike in painter's clothes.
As employees and customers at the bank carry on their business, the painters begin to unload what appear to be paint and painting supplies onto hand carts. Dalton, who is one of the painters, walks into the bank, and we recognize him despite the clothes and dark. He places two large, high-intensity flashlights on one of the small service tables in the center of the bank's lobby. He turns them on and points them at two of the bank's security cameras, blinding them.
The other painters follow him into the bank but nobody notices them locking the doors shut. When they raise their masks over their mouths and noses, a guard approaches and questions what they are doing. Dalton walks up behind him and puts a gun into his side. The other painters rush in, brandishing firearms and dropping smoke bombs, and subdue the other customers.
A passing NYPD patrol officer, Sergeant Collins (Victor Collichio), happens to see smoke coming out from under the bank doors. When he attempts to open the doors, he finds they are locked and calls police dispatch. Dalton unlocks a door and points a large .357 Magnum in his face. In a fake European accent, he tells Collins he has hostages and threatens to kill them if the cops come too close. He then retreats inside the bank and re-locks the doors. Removing his pistol from his holster, Collins begins clearing the street of pedestrians as he radios for help.
The scene changes to an NYPD precinct in a different part of Manhattan, Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) is on the phone with his patrol officer girlfriend Sylvia (Cassandra Freeman). They are discussing a corruption investigation involving Frazier that involves a crooked drug-dealer who set Frazier up to appear as if he embezzled a large sum of drug-deal money. The charge is holding up his being considered for promotion to Detective First Grade, which would give him the money to buy a house and marry Sylvia. He's mildly disconcerted that Sylvia's brother is a petty bumbling crook who has spent time in lockup for trying to rip off a car. Sylvia insists that he's the only family she's got. Frazier and Sylvia finish the conversation with "sweet nothings" and looking forward to a romantic tryst at home that night.
Frazier's partner, Detective Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) briefly discuss how Sylvia's brother is a thorn in Frazier's side, though Frazier acknowledges that Sylvia still loves him despite his bumbling attempts at petty heists, and he can't put the young man out of their house.
Their conversation is interrupted by their commanding officer, Captain Coughlin (Peter Gerety), who informs them that he's assigning them to work the hostage situation happening at the Manhattan Trust Bank. Jumping at the offer, they hurry to get to the bank.
While this is happening, the police arrive in full force at the Manhattan Trust, including numerous patrol officers, a mobile command center, and the Emergency Services Unit. Barricades are set up to cordon off the block with quick efficiency. ESU Sergeant Hernandez (Jason Manuel Olazabal), leader of the ESU unit, meets with Collins to get a preliminary report.
Word of the bank robbery also is sent to the bank's founder and chairman Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer). When told by his secretary, his concern at the hostage situation is clear, but he is notably more concerned when his secretary tells him the robbery is taking place at the branch at 20 Exchange Place.
Frazier arrives and makes contact with Sergeant Collins, who briefs him on what little he's seen of the situation, and they prepare to get to work.
In the bank, the robbers are also conducting their own operation with cool efficiency. They herd all the hostages downstairs to where the vault is. One of the robbers, clearly a woman, separates the bank employees from the customers. Dalton announces that his cohorts are going to be collecting everyone's cell phones and keys. They find one bank employee with no cell phone. Dalton confronts the employee, Peter Hammond (Peter Frechette) and warns him not to try and play hero by hiding his phone. Hammond insists he left his phone at home. Dalton grabs the bags containing all the collected cell phones and begins looking through their speed-dial memories. After tossing a number of phones aside, he finds one that has Hammond's cell phone number on it. He calls the phone and immediately a distinctive ring tone is audible from Hammond's office. Dalton retrieves it and holds it up before Hammond. Busted and now terrified, Hammond begs for his life. Dalton doesn't shoot him, but does drag Hammond into hiss office and proceeds to use his fists and feet to viciously beat Hammond senseless.
Dalton then separates the men and women hostages and orders them to undress. A few have to be 'encouraged' with a gun held up close to their faces but finally they all strip to their underwear. One woman in late middle age still refuses even when threatened directly, even telling Dalton to go ahead and kill her. Dalton has the woman bank robber, who he calls Stevie (Kim Director) lead the woman away to be 'dealt with in private.' Dalton then distributes painter's suits with fumes masks and dark shades, ordering everyone to put them on. Now the hostages and robbers are all indistinguishable from one another.
Frazier and Mitchell meet the ESU Captain, John Darius (Willem Dafoe). None of the police yet know how many perps are inside, nor how many hostages. Frazier announces he and Mitchell will wait for a call from Darius at the nearest diner once a briefing is ready.
Inside the bank, one of the hostages is coughing and wheezing uncontrollably. Grabbing him, Dalton ushers him to the door and pushes him outside into the waiting arms of the police. Unable to immediately determine if he is a perp or hostage, the police handcuff him and lead him away.
At this point, the movie begins to periodically shift between the main storyline, and Frazier and Mitchell interviewing hostages at the precinct after the robbery has ended. They are trying to pick out the perpetrators from the rest of the hostages.
One of the hostages (Rodney 'Bear' Jackson), who works as a bank security guard, is being interviewed, and he is speaking to Frazier and Mitchell about his being afraid he'd never see his family again. He speaks about his wife and children and wondering if he'd get to hold them again.
Dalton and his accomplices are seen inspecting the layout of the bank. They walk past the vault, the safe deposit boxes, and into a store room where various stationery and other office equipment is. Dalton looks at the store room and says, 'Beautiful.'
The scene changes to an office elsewhere in Manhattan where a high power "fixer", Madeline White (Jodie Foster), is interviewing a nephew of Osama bin Laden's, who is purchasing property in the city. She makes note that the nephew is doing no business with his uncle and hasn't seen him in nine years (around the time of bin Laden's bombing of the US embassies). The interview is interrupted by White's assistant who tells her that Arthur Case is on the phone.
White takes the call, specifically asking her assistant if Case made the call personally or whether a secretary announced that she was placing the call for him. Assured that Case is on the line himself, White has the call patched through. Case, knowing White's profession, explains that he has a small problem requiring a person with 'special skills and complete discretion.' She assures him she is more than capable of doing such a job.
Frazier and Mitchell are interviewing a number of hostages about the robbery. Peter Hammond (his face visibly bruised) speaks about how the robbers were 'insistent and yet detached.' A young man whose face was not seen before tells the detectives that the perps called each other a variation of 'Steven--' Steve, Steve-O, and Stevie (the woman perp). The employee with the heart condition (Gerry Vichi) is saying the only thing he ever stole was a nickel from his grandmother when he was a boy.
Captain Darius summons Frazier and Mitchell and briefs them on what he's learned from the released hostage, Herman Gluck, who is 73 and who was released after complaining of chest pains. He is currently being treated by paramedics. From Gluck, Darius says the perps told him to say to the police that if any officers approached the door, two dead bodies would be thrown out. Gluck said he believes there are four perps in total conducting the robbery. He's having the department arrange to download the video feed from the bank's security system from its main office. The block is secured with snipers in key locations, and they're checking with the DEP about sewer grates. Frazier announces he's going to wait for the perps to make the first move, wait and see what they do.
White and Case are walking along the riverside, discussing what Case needs. He has precious family heirlooms inside his safety deposit box at the branch that is being held up. White is suspicious that Case personally called her instead of acting through his people, saying it means that the safety box contains something that Case doesn't want to even hint at, even to his closest and most trusted aides. She tells him, coolly but curtly, that she doesn't need to be told what the box contains, but if she discovers it's something much more serious than anything Case might hint at, their agreement is over. Case, also speaking curtly, tells her that the box contains items that he's had since before White was born, and pose no danger to anyone--although White notes, 'except to you.' Case and White both clearly distrust each other, are suspicious of one another's honesty, and don't particularly like each other... but she assures him she can ensure that nobody discovers the contents, or even the existence, of his safe deposit box. Case has no reason to believe the robbers are targetting the box, or are even aware of it, but he is taking extremely great pains to avoid taking any chances.
In the bank's storeroom, Steve (Carlos Andrés Gómez) is telling Dalton that it's time for Steve-O (James Ransone), who begins using a pickaxe to dig under the floor of the storeroom.
Outside, using a tip from the released hostages that the robbers are dressed as painters, Mitchell and Fraizer identify a parked Chevrolet Express van with decals on the side reading "Perfectly Planned Painting... We NEVER Leave Until the Job is _Done._" Frazier quickly determines that it's just a peel-away decal, and finds that it is covering the white stencilling marking the van as belonging to an electric company... meaning it's stolen.
Inside the MCC, Frazier calls the bank to establish contact. Dalton is shown sitting at the desk, watching the phone ring, but chooses not to answer. An officer inside the center, named Rourke (Daryl Mitchell) brings up the video feed from the camera's security system. They see each camera go out and lose transmission one by one, and pick out Dalton shining what appear to be flashlights at them. He deduces the flashlights emitted infrared light pulses, which is invisible to humans but is picked up by the cameras. It allowed Dalton to knock out the cameras very discretely without anyone noticing what he was doing. He did this at about 10 am, and for two minutes there is no video footage of anyone entering or leaving the bank.
Frazier and Mitchell are seen questioning Miriam (Marcia Jean Kurtz), the hostage who refused to undress. She is still frightened and in tears even after the ordeal was finished.
The perps release another hostage from the bank, his hands behind him and something placed around his chest. When he doesn't respond to police orders, they note his hands are tied and pat him down thoroughly. Pulling off the mask and shades, they find a blindfold and gag underneath them. Once released, the hostage says he is Vikram Walla (Waris Ahluwalia) and he is a bank employee. He is Sikh, and the officers mistake him for Arab, causing them to jump, and they think he has a bomb hanging from his neck. When the device is taken, he is roughly seized and hauled away, the officers pulling his turban away, much to his outrage. Frazier and Mitchell look closely at the device taken from him, but don't touch it.
White pays a visit to the mayor (Peter Kybart), who greets her very cordially and pleasantly and they begin to speak in a very friendly manner about assorted business while walking out of the mayor's press room. No sooner are they behind closed doors when their respective demeanors change in an instant--the mayor outright despises White and is extremely happy to hear that the favor she is here for, is the last she intends to ask him. White tells the mayor she's going down to the hostage situation and she needs the mayor to make sure that she is afforded "every courtesy" by the "people in charge." The mayor is outraged, noting that he'll have to do more than call in favors--he'd end up owing quite a few, much to his displeasure. White clearly has enough influence to get the mayor to do what she asks, though it's not revealed what sort.
Frazier, Mitchell and Darius are questioning a very hostile and angry Vikram (though this is while the robbery is still going on). Vikram is extremely upset about the seizing of his turban, which is paramount to his Sikh religion. Frazier does everything possible to soothe his ruffled feathers and asks Vikram to concentrate on the safety of his co-workers. Vikram reveals he believes there to be four robbers and somewhere between twenty and forty hostages. The perps are all armed and making no mistakes.
Frazier opens the case that was hung around Vikram's neck. It is empty, though there is writing on the inside of it--demands from the robbers. They want two buses with a full gas tank, a fully fueled and manned jumbo jet waiting for them at John F. Kennedy International Airport, all by 9 pm. After that, a hostage will be executed in front of TV cameras every hour. The bank is secured with Semtex (a plastic explosive with military uses), and the robbers will demonstrate if necessary. Frazier says the perps won't even get a cup of coffee until he talks to them. He's going to give them time to wonder what the police are up to.
Collins shows Case into the MCC and introduces him to Frazier, Mitchell and Darius. He seems curiously relieved when he is told the robbers are asking for a jet, and even offers to arrange one for them. Sounding tired and out of breath, he asks to remain with them, but of course, as a civilian, he cannot be afforded this, and they promise to keep him updated but have him sent on his way to await news.
Dalton steps outside of the bank and hands one of the officers a piece of paper which instructs the cops to deliver enough food to feed all the hostages. In the command center, Officer Berk (Ashlie Atkinson) suggests pizza, as the pizza boxes can conceal hidden transmitters and lots of the people will group around the boxes, allowing for more efficient recording. Frazier notes that he is not going ask anything from the robbers in return for the pizza, as they have already released two hostages. He knows that the robbers have everything well-planned and he is not willing to risk getting caught bluffing them.
Inside the bank, one of the hostages finally gets frustrated and pulls off his mask, arguing with his fellow hostages over his losing control. Finally Dalton storms in, grabs him by his ankle, drags him into the storeroom and punches him out.
Another 'after the robbery questioning' is shown, Frazier and Mitchell tricking a man into removing his hearing aids and demonstrating he is able to hear their questions without them.
The pizzas and bottled water are delivered. Frazier introduces himself to Dalton while the three Stevens quickly shuttle the food inside the bank. He tells Dalton to pick up the phone at any time. Dalton simply stares at Frazier, saying nothing, and then locks the doors again.
Through the hidden transmitters, the command center personnel hear a foreign language spoken. Believing it to be Russian, Frazier has Mitchell check with Gluck and Vikram to see if they remember hearing any of the robbers speaking Russian.
Steve and Stevie are shown herding hostages around from room to room to keep them disoriented. During the procedure, unseen by any of the hostages, Stevie hands Steve her gun, doffs her gloves and shades and puts on an eye mask like those the hostages are being made to wear, and begins acting as though she is crying hysterically, in a loud voice for the hostages to hear, so that it appears that Stevie is in fact one of the hostages. Steve roughly ushers her into a room and makes her sit down. He then grabs another female hostage about the same height as Stevie, who he treats rudely, calling her 'boobs' because of her large bust. He ushers her into another room, while making sure all the hostages have their masks on and are keeping their hands on the ground.
More 'after-the-robbery questioning' scenes are shown. Nancy Mann (Samantha Ivers), a woman who was talking loudly on her cell phone just before the robbers struck, angrily rails about the hostage who took off his mask and started acting up until punched out by Dalton (the name Darius Peltz is written on the photograph).
Stevie is seen working in the storeroom, cleaning up after a hole has been dug in the floor. Her cleavage spills out of her tank-top t-shirt, much like the female hostage Steve rudely called 'boobs' while ushering her from one room to another.
In the MCC, the officers are going over the recording made through the bugged pizza boxes. Another officer skilled in linguistics is unable to correctly identify the language, although he believes it is Central European. Frazier comes up with an idea: one of the bystanders standing behind the barricades on the street probably will recognize the language. He has Berk broadcast the recording through the MCC's speakers, and goes out to the barricades, asking pedestrians if anyone understands the language.
A sanitation worker named Kevin (Al Palagonia) comes forward, saying that the language is Albanian. Unfortunately, he himself cannot translate it for the officers: he only recognizes the language because his ex-wife and her parents are Albanian natives and he recognizes the language from listening to her speak with her parents, who knew no English at all.
A check on the van, meanwhile, reveals that it was stolen two days earlier, but has also been wiped clean of fingerprints.
In the bank, Dalton is bringing pizza and a water bottle to Brian Robinson (Amir Ali Said), the eight-year-old son of one of the hostages, who is sitting in the bank's vault playing a hand-held video game which has kept him occupied throughout the whole ordeal. Dalton sits beside him and watches him eat. Dalton is far more civil, respectful, even humble, with Brian than he'd been shown as conducting himself at any time prior to this moment. He picks up Brian's video game and asks him how it works, seeming appalled at how brutally violent it is, reveling in the most cutthroat 'gangzta' violence.
The police run into trouble trying to get an interpreter to translate the Albanian dialogue, as the Albanian Consulate and the State Department, outside the city jurisdiction, are refusing to send someone to help. With no other options, Frazier tells Kevin, insistently, to call his ex-wife and ask her to come to the site so she can translate.
A brief scene is shown where Dalton stands in the vault, removing his mask and shades as he stares at the cash on the vault's shelves.
Back in the MCC, Kevin's Albanian ex-wife, Ilina (Florina Petcu) is escorted into the MCC. Ilina is a sultry, vain, self-centered woman who seems to understand how badly the Mobile Command Center officers need her help and takes the time to enjoy lording over them, brazenly lighting up a cigarette over Mitchell's admonishments not to smoke inside the MCC, and handing Frazier a bag full of unpaid parking tickets, which she expects him to 'fix' in return for her services. Ilina listens to the recording and breaks into a light, completely amused laugh: not only does she know what is being said, but the voice that they're hearing is that of Enver Hoxha... the former President of Albania, who has been deceased for 20 years. They are listening to a tape recording of a speech Hoxha made during his presidency, about the greatness of Albanian people--a Marxist-Leninist propaganda speech. Frazier and Mitchell are left back at square one, steaming over how they'd been outplayed. Dalton and crew not only knew that the pizza boxes were bugged, they were counting on it--to send the hapless detectives on a wild goose chase.
Back in the bank, Steve chows down on pizza as the transmission device, easily located by him and his colleagues, is carefully placed near an iPod that is still transmitting the recording of the Hoxha propaganda speech.
Stevie and Dalton go into the bank's safety deposit box room. Stevie places a key into safety deposit box 392 and carefully picks the second lock. She opens the hatch and pulls out the deposit box, where Dalton carefully undoes a large, twine-and-button closure on a suede envelope holder resting on top of the box's contents. He pulls out a manila envelope that has Arthur Case's name on it, and contains a number of legal documents. Dalton glances at Stevie, who smiles complacently she looks back at Dalton. Underneath the envelope, still in the safety deposit box, rest a large number of black velvet pouches tied with drawstrings... and a red jewelry box suitable for holding a ring. Dalton takes the documents to the desk just outside the safety deposit vault as Stevie closes the deposit box back up.
White arrives with the mayor in a sleek black GMC SUV is allowed through the barricade and summon Fraizer for a meeting. The three begin a careful parley about White having influence that may be of use to Frazier, for reasons Frazier is not privy to because of his 'pay grade,' and that in turn leads to a careful parley about his promotion possibly being pushed through the red tape holding it up.
Collins and Hernandez are making more preparations for a potential storming of the bank, while inside the command center, Frazier finally makes contact with Dalton over the phone. After the ice is broken over calling out Dalton over the Hoxha tape, the negotiations get down to the nitty-gritty. Dalton takes command, warning Frazier that the many innocent lives at stake rob him of any power to call any shots in the negotiations. Dalton talks, Frazier listens, and complies promptly with all demands, or people stop breathing--permanently. Once the conversation is ended, Frazier is troubled at how completely calm Dalton sounded. Someone who was completely sure of himself and in control of his surroundings.
Meanwhile, White sits in the diner used as the waiting point, watching everything she can see from her vantage point.
In another 'after-the-robbery' scene, Frazier and Mitchell are interviewing another hostage--or not; the 'hostage' is Steve, although Frazier and Mitchell don't know that. Steve has given his name as Kenneth Damerjian. The interrogation reveals a key point in Dalton's making all the hostages dress up in the painter outfits with masks and shades, just like he and his fellow robbers, along with the hostages being constantly moved from room to room, as well as each of the 'Stevens' taking turns pretending to be hostages... it allowed them to mingle with the true hostages and, during key points, they all unmasked so the hostages saw their faces and could point them out from the photographs as being fellow hostages. Steve's dialogue shows that he deliberately misbehaved during his time impersonating a hostage, so others would see him being treated as one--at one point, his colleagues even bound and gagged him as 'punishment,' and Frazier saw him that way.
Frazier is negotiating again with Dalton on the phone, making little headway against Dalton's continuous warnings that Frazier is in no position to do anything other than exactly what Dalton already told him to do, because so many lives depend on it. Frazier desperately tries to bargain for extra time, offering to bring more food for the robbers and hostages.
Dalton finally offers Frazier a bone. He asks Frazier a riddle; which weighs more, all the trees cut down to print all US currency presently in circulation, or all the trains passing through Grand Central Station in a year. If Frazier answers correctly, he gets more time. If not, someone could be dying very soon. Dalton offers one hint: it's a trick question.
The MCC team furiously ponders the riddle, until Darius points out that US money is not printed on paper at all, but cotton fibers, meaning no trees were cut down. Frazier calls Dalton and is just about to answer that the trains weigh more when Mitchell stops him, makes him hang up, and says it's a trap: Frazier must tell Dalton that both weigh the same. Frazier does so, and Dalton tells him to send sandwiches this time (which will allow the hostages to spread out while they eat, so no hidden bugs can be planted).
Mitchell explains that Grand Central STATION is the proper term for the post office in that area, while the hub of train platforms is properly called Grand Central TERMINAL or just Grand Central.
Inside one of the rooms in the bank, a number of hostages are passing time in conversation. One of them, a Hasidic man named Chaim (Bernard Rachelle), mentions he is a professor of criminal law at Columbia, teaching courses on genocide, slave labor and war reparation. He is also a former attorney.
Dalton, Stevie and Steve-O are examining the finished hole dug in the storeroom floor, and Steve-O dryly remarks, 'Now that's a good-looking shithole.'
Frazier calls Sylvia, who is relaxing at home, although she is very anxious about Frazier's well-being. They talk a little about the ongoing situation and Frazier hopes to finish it up very soon. As he finishes the conversation, he lightly raps on the diner window, signaling White to come outside. After making her promise that she understands the 'ground rules' they talked about earlier, Frazier uses his cell phone to contact Dalton inside the bank so that White can talk to him directly. Madeline tells Dalton that if she is allowed to make sure that 'certain interests are protected,' she can help him get what he came for. The conversation between Dalton and White is another carefully worded cat-and-mouse game where it is very unclear who is the cat. But White succeeds in getting something: after she assures Dalton that she is neither a bank employee nor a police officer, he tells her that she can come into the bank and talk to him face to face.
Frazier and two officers escort White to the bank doors, and Frazier warns her that after ten minutes, as far as he is concerned, White can count herself as another hostage. Once inside the bank, White is made to lie on the floor while Stevie pats her down to ensure she is unarmed. Dalton waits behind the teller counters. As White approaches, Dalton asks why she thinks he needs her help, shrugging off her reply about the vertiable army of police outside. White presents her offer: If Dalton gives up now, she can make sure he'll get no more than the minimum prison sentence, and when it's completed, he'll have two million dollars waiting for him to pick up from a safe place. Dalton takes the terms with an air of what is plainly mock surprise, and then turns it down. He then asks White, again, to tell him about the 'interests' she's trying to protect.
When White says she can't talk about them, Dalton stuns her by saying that he can--he already knows why White is here--he even knows something she doesn't. He tells her a story about an American man who was working for a Swiss bank during World War II. He used his position with the Nazis to enrich himself while people all around him were being stripped at gunpoint of everything they owned, and then used his blood money to start a bank. In fact, the man Dalton is describing is Case, who at this same time is in his office looking wistfully at a large number of awards given him by Jewish interest groups and charity organizations for his long years of service to their causes.
Dalton finishes up by asking White if this man he is telling her about, sounds like the man she might be working for. Defeated but trying to act like she hasn't been, White says she and Dalton understand each other. When Dalton repeats his question as to what help White can offer him, since he's shown he knows a lot more than her about what's going on, and has planned everything so completely, White sharply rebuffs that she still has enough power in the games being played to throw a serious monkey wrench into Dalton's plans. She wants two minutes to go into one safety deposit box and retrieve something from there. But again, Dalton shows he's one step ahead of everyone--including White herself. He shows her the legal documentation (a Nazi swastika can be plainly seen on one of the pages) he's taken from the box, saying that it now belongs to him as its previous owner was too careless to destroy them when he had the chance. Dalton is keeping them as leverage--if he is ever captured and put on trial for the robbery, White and her employer will have to use all their resources to get him off the hook. When White asks how Dalton plans to get out of the bank, he casually says he will walk right out the front door.
Back outside the bank, Frazier is debriefing White on the conversation with Dalton. He's far too smart to fall for her carefully worded answers, but has little in the way of pressuring her into telling everything he wants. White believes Dalton will not kill anyone, but Frazier is unconvinced. Dalton doesn't appear to have been pushed into a corner; he seems to have chosen to go there. White has done all she can in the situation and Frazier dismisses her after a brief exchange of words culminating in a subtle warning from White that she is still a major figure on the chess board.
More post-robbery interrogations follow:
Brian and his father, Ray (Ed Onipede Blunt) are being interviewed. Brian is able to tell them a little about Dalton, although not enough for them to have a lead. Everyone all looked the same, especially to Brian, as the hostages were made to dress identically to the robbers including hoods and masks. Another former hostage, Paul Guiterrez (Lemon Andersen) is shown to have a rap sheet, leading Frazier and Mitchell to press him hard in an attempt to trick him into revealing something that only one of the robbers would know, but to no avail. They are speaking the hard-of-hearing Jewish man again, showing photos of Darius Peltz and Kenneth Damerjian--Peltz (the hostage who pulled off his mask and was punched out by Dalton) is Steve-O, showing that all three 'Stevens' all acted up at some point while posing as hostages until Dalton came in to 'discipline' them; all part of the act so all three 'Stevens' would appear as fellow hostages. The Jewish man looks at the photos but cannot determine anything suspicious about them. Finally Frazier and Mitchell are seen interviewing Stevie. Noting her large bust, they say there's only one other woman among the hostages besides her who fit the physical description of the female suspect--moderately tall, young, and large-busted. But Stevie does not break or back down; her answers are cool and sardonic, and the detectives cannot pick out anything that separates her from the other hostages.
Frazier, Mitchell and Darius are in the MCC discussing hostage-takers all wanting planes, and never getting them, yet they keep demanding one whenever another hostage situation arises. Frazier is thoughtful for a moment and then picks up the phone to call Dalton. He explains to Mitchell that he doesn't buy Dalton's insistence that Frazier be quick about the plane--he believes that Dalton knows hostage-negotiating procedures and is using the 'tricks of the trade' against them. As negotiatiors, Frazier and Mitchell need to do whatever they can to stall for time, but Frazier believes that Dalton is actually the one stalling--the Enver Hoxha tape, the trick-question riddle; Dalton keeps providing subtle loopholes allowing him to give Frazier more time. Dalton is not in a hurry to go anywhere.
Frazier calls Dalton and bluffs him, saying the plane is ready, but he needs to come into the bank and make sure the hostages are okay, and none of them have been killed. Dalton agrees.
Frazier is let into the bank and frisked by Steve-O before being led up the stairs inside. Dalton leads Frazier through a series of connecting offices where the hostages sit, masked and clothed the same as Dalton and the other robbers. Brian alone is in his regular street clothes, as he is too small to fit into the appropriate 'disguise.' Frazier asks for Brian to be released, but Dalton demurs.
Frazier asks if there are any other hostages. Dalton says that some had misbehaved, and they are in the next room. He opens the door where Frazier sees a number of hostages who are bound and gagged--among them Stevie, crying as she tries to dislodge her gag, and Steve. All part of the plan so the two of them, and Steve-O, could not be picked out from the other hostages.
Dalton says the tour is over and he and Steve-O begin leading Frazier back out. Frazier finally confronts Dalton, admitting no plane is ready and that Dalton probably doesn't even want one because he's been stalling for time, and Frazier wants to know why. Dalton coolly answers that he knows Frazier's commanding officer will not order a siege when no hostages have been killed and there's no threat, and even if it happened, Frazier would not be the hero.
Near the door, Frazier asks if Dalton wouldn't just walk out the front door, and Dalton says he will do so when he's ready. After a bit of small talk, Frazier offers Dalton a handshake, which turns out to be a ploy to get Dalton to drop his guard just long enough for Frazier to grab him and wrestle him to the ground. Unfortunately Steve-O is there with his rifle jammed into Frazier's back before Frazier can effect a capture. Frazier is forced to bank off, hands up, as he nervously looks at Steve-O and Dalton's readied weapons. They push him out of the bank where he is met by Mitchell.
Steve-O and Dalton go to the supply room where Steve is working. Steve-O confronts Dalton on Frazier almost capturing him. Dalton impatiently asks Steve, 'how long?' and Steve says that it will be two hours; maybe three.
Frazier enters the MCC and briefs Darius. He gave Dalton every reason to kill him, but Dalton didn't bite--he now believes White's claim that Dalton isn't the type to murder. The whole robbery has been planned with utmost care--the Hoxha speech tape, the disguises, the demand for a plane even though he didn't really expect one; Frazier knows Dalton is up to something specific, but it's not violence.
But at that moment, the phone rings; Dalton is making contact. He tells Frazier to have the MCC's camera zoom in on a second-floor window.
Officer Rourke zooms in and the camera reveals Dalton and five others in a semi-circle around a seventh person whose head is covered in a white sack. Dalton holds up a hand, then levels a pistol at the seventh person and fires his gun point-blank. A spray of blood comes through the sack as the executed hostage slowly crumples to the ground; the other five people cringing and crying out in horror and fear. Frazier looks on, shaken to the core, before hurrying to the bank's front door and pounding on it.
Dalton is there on the opposite side of the door. He and Frazier have it out in a verbal argument. Frazier insists that the police command all know that the whole 'bank robbery' is a sham, but Dalton is unruffled, saying he told Frazier to get the buses. Frazier tries to press for what Dalton really wants so he can get it for him, but Dalton sticks to the 'buses and a plane' demand. Frazier calls him out, telling Dalton he's not buying the routine anymore. Dalton opens the door and points his gun at Frazier, demanding he leave. But Frazier stands his ground, challenging Dalton to kill him. Dalton curses Frazier out and tells him to have the command center send someone sane the next time they want to talk to him.
Captain Darius calls his superiors to report the shooting. As Frazier is returning to the MCC, he finds Captain Coughlin waiting for him. Coughlin allows Frazier to say very little. He had gone to bed and the hostage situation was proceeding smoothly, then was called at 3:15 am and told of a murdered hostage. Coughlin tells Frazier that Captain Darius is now in charge, and Frazier does nothing without Darius' approval. Mitchell is exasperated to hear that he and Frazier are no longer in control.
Coughlin and Darius are studying blueprints of the bank with a number of police ESU leaders, preparing to storm the bank and end the situation. We see scenes of an imagined siege scenario as the officers discuss and plan. The biggest problem is that they cannot tell who will be a hostage and who will be a perp until the perps start shooting. They decide to use rubber bullets to avoid hostage casualties.
It is morning again, and Mitchell and Frazier are talking. Mitchell knows that if the siege goes down wrong, the mess will be dumped into Frazier's lap and he will be the scapegoat. But Frazier reveals the 'deal' that White and the Mayor made with him to push his promotion to First Grade through channels. Mitchell is shocked and stares gravely as Frazier heads outside for some air.
Frazier makes small talk with Sergeant Collins, who feels that Frazier is being cheated at being excluded from the storming of the bank. Frazier conversationally asks Collins about the last time he had a gun pointed at him. Collins carelessly drops a racial slur but apologizes when Frazier calls him out on it. After Collins tells his story, he promises to speak more carefully in the future, because 'you never know who's listening in.'
Frazier's face changes quickly. He rushes back into the MCC and grabs the metal case sent out with Vikram Walia, which contained the original demands. He wrenches at the case and pulls off a panel to find a transmission device. Dalton not only knew about the police bugging the bank with the pizza boxes--he had bugged THEM first. He knows about the planned storming of the bank which has been in planning for many hours, and has had all that time to make preparations.
Grabbing a microphone, he frantically warns Darius, insisting he and the ESU officers stand down, telling them about the transmitter and that Dalton heard everything that had been said in the MCC since the metal case was brought inside. But Darius refuses to stand down; he says he's going in--now.
Inside the bank, Dalton pulls a small earpiece out of his ear and curses.
Dalton alerts the three 'Stevens,' who spring into action. Dalton starts laying smoke grenades as his colleagues gather all the hostages together out of the offices into the hallway, making sure they all have their hoods and masks on. Dalton shouts and waves his gun to herd the hostages upstairs, while Stevie and Steve-O are seen leaving their rifles in the offices, doffing their sunglasses for the hostage eye masks.
The NYPD is about to begin their siege on the bank when suddenly the door is blown open with a small explosive. A few at a time, people in painter outfits, dark shades and masks begin running out, hands raised to shoulder level, pleading for the police not to shoot. Despite this, some officers open fire using the rubber bullets, until Captain Darius orders them to hold. All of the people are herded together and made to lie down on the ground. They are put in plasticuffs, and masks are removed... we see Stevie glancing around as she is cuffed, looking fearful; Steve lies with his face against the pavement beside Paul Guiterrez while Steve-O lies on his back, hands raised level with his head as he trembles anxiously.
The ESU officers lead the way into the bank, efficiently making sure the bank is clear, room by room. Darius, Frazier and Mitchell enter and begin the investigation. Immediately they begin finding evidence that, just as Frazier had deduced, this was no ordinary robbery. First, they find all of the bank's money still in the vault. It appears untouched by the robbery crew. On a shelf in the cash vault is a bag with all the cell phones confiscated from the hostages. There are no booby traps or escape tunnels anywhere. Second, they find the rifles left behind by the three 'Stevens' (so they could run out with the hostages and be indistinguisable from them) and realize that the firearms are not real--they are toys, carefully painted to look real, but cannot fire any actual ammunition. In the women's bathroom they find the white sack used to cover the head of the slain hostage--with a hidden injector tube of red dye; proof that the execution was staged, and nobody was actually harmed. In the supply room are plastic trash bags containing all the street clothes from the hostages.
Outside, two police buses pull up and the officers there begin hustling all the hostages to their feet, putting them on a bus to be taken to the station for questioning. The bank guard is hostile and argumentative, and some other hostages try to cry in vain that they are not part of the robbery crew. Officers take each hostage's name and photograph them before putting them on the buses. Stevie gives her real name as Valerie Keepsake, and the Hasidic attorney/professor hostage gives his name as Chaim.
Frazier and Coughlin meet in a conference room at their precinct HQ. Frazier gives the grim details at how thoroughly and flawlessly planned the whole affair was. Each hostage was shown photographs and questioned about anyone who stood out in any way. But every single hostage has at least a few people who would rule them out as suspicious. Even Stevie/Valerie, Steve/Kenneth, and Steve-O/Darius are vouched for by others, thanks to the time they spent posing as hostages, even causing a ruckus that required Dalton to come in and put them back in line. With no money missing from the bank--it has been re-counted several times and every last dollar is accounted for--it's like the whole thing never happened. They can't even find Dalton's .357 magnum (he was the only one of the robbery crew armed with a handgun) to see if it was real or fake like the rifles left behind.
Coughlin tells Frazier to bury the case. Even though Frazier knows that somebody did SOMETHING throughout the whole situation, there was no robbery, no suspects, and nobody's breathing down Coughlin's neck to give answers, so he won't breathe down Frazier's. He restates his orders: bury the case.
As Frazier gets up to leave, Coughlin gives him an afterthought: the missing money Frazier was accused of embezzling, has been found. He's off the hook. Frazier is pretty surprised, and not entirely in a pleasant manner. He asks Coughlin not to tell him where the money was found--he doesn't want to know.
A safety deposit box number, 392, is briefly shown.
Mitchell is rambling on about the people who had accused Frazier of wrongdoing or impropriety, and how they are the only ones still trying to find out anything about the robbery. Frazier is looking over a series of bank files, when suddenly he pauses. He's looking over a list of safety deposit boxes for the bank where the ordeal took place. The list skips from box 391 straight to box 393--box number 392 is not listed in the records. Grabbing his jacket, he tells Mitchell to come with him.
Frazier is exiting a room in a courthouse, shaking a judge's hand and saying he'll be by tomorrow to pick up something that the judge will be providing him. As Frazier re-enters the atrium, he finds Madeline White waiting for him. She confronts him on his visiting a city judge and being told to bury the case, reminding him of their 'arrangement.' But Frazier shows his trump card--a simple writing pen that officer Berk showed him, contained a hidden recording device. Frazier replays a recording when he was in the SUV with White and the mayor--he'd had the pen in his suitcoat pocket. The recording has captured the Mayor ordering Frazier to give White everything she needed in the robbery or his career was finished; whether he was guilty of the drug money embezzlement or not.
Frazier tries to press White about Arthur Case. He knows that Case is hiding something. White asks again for Frazier to leave everything be, but he leaves without answering her.
White brazenly marches into an exclusive men's club to confront Case. She is addressing him by his first name now. She says that Frazier is 'under control,' and that Dalton is holding onto the envelope Case was concerned about. White then informs Case on what she's learned from Dalton--that Case built his fortune doing business with the Nazis during World War II. Case doesn't deny the truth of it, saying he sold his soul and has spent his entire life trying to buy it back. White says that there appears to be no danger of Dalton using the envelope against Case immediately--he's hanging on to it as insurance in case he is ever caught and charged, and he might one day offer to sell it back to Case. But White knows that Dalton was not stopping at just stealing legal documents in order to sleep with them stuffed under his mattress.
Case and White's voices both become curt and clipped as she confronts him on the fact that the robbers were after more than just the documents hidden in Case's safety box that contained the evidence of his crimes. She knows that he must have had true precious valuables, and there's only one thing they could be; one international currency of high monetary worth all over the world--what the Nazis used to pay Case: diamonds. And, as Case adds, there was a Cartier ring of incalculable worth that belonged to a wealthy Parisian Jewish banker and his family. Case could have saved their lives, but the Nazis gave him the ring to sell them out. Case writes White a check as payment for her services, and she leaves with an unpleasant remark about how she is going to list him as a reference in the sale of a Manhattan co-op to Osama Bin Laden's nephew (the man she was interviewing in her first scene).
Dalton is seen repeating his opening monologue. He is in his 'cell,' holding one of the black velvet pouches, looking at the diamonds inside it. He gathers a few belongings he has in his 'cell,' turning out two small lights. He pushes out a wall in his cell, and it is revealed that he was never in prison, but in hiding--behind a false wall he and his cohorts had built in the bank supply room, with enough provisions to wait it out until all the brouhaha over the robbery had simmered down. Putting the section of false wall back in place and replacing the heavy boxes that were in front of it, He carefully but casually makes his way out into the public area of the bank.
Across the street, Kenneth/Steve, Valerie/Stevie, and Darius/Steve-O are waiting, in an SUV. The camera pans along the SUV to show Chaim sitting with them--he was part of the heist all along; the mastermind behind it.
They see Frazier and Mitchell going into the bank and hurriedly call Dalton on his cell phone to warn him. Dalton asks if they're coming for him, and they are not sure--it's just Frazier and Mitchell; nobody else.
But Dalton is unafraid--he even goes so far to 'accidentally' bump into Frazier as he and Mitchell enter the bank, apologizing to them as he continues on his way out, and they do not notice or recognize him. Dalton walks out of the bank and into the waiting van where he is greeted with a kiss from Valerie and handshakes from Kenneth, Darius and Chaim. When Chaim notes that Dalton doesn't have the ring with him, Dalton says he left it in the safety deposit box, but he assures Chaim it is in very good hands.
As they all drive off, Case's diamonds and legal documents in their possession, and having escaped without so much as any suspicion on their heads, Dalton gives a closing monologue in that he did the robbery for the money, but speaks of how respect is the ultimate currency, and that he knows that Case, and other men like him, will always have to face their pasts sooner or later.
Frazier and Mitchell present Peter Hammond with a warrant and court order authorizing them to open safety deposit box 392. Inside the box they are surprised and amused to find an unfinished package of Juicy Fruit gum, along with a few used gum wrappers... but they also find a jewelry box containing an exquisite gold and diamond ring, and the box has a Cartier label. There is also a small piece of scrap paper with the words 'Follow the ring' scrawled on it.
Frazier and Mitchell go to see Case at his office. What begins as a cordial conversation quickly degenerates into a heated confrontation as Frazier gradually reveals enough of what he's found during the investigation to show that he knows that Case hired Madeline White to keep Frazier reined in, and that Case himself is guilty of some serious crimes. He shows Case the ring, warning him that he is going to 'follow' it. As he walks down the street with Mitchell after leaving the office, the two detectives share a laugh over how Frazier raked Case across the coals.
Frazier goes to an exclusive diner where the mayor is having lunch with Madeline White. Frazier shows the mayor the ring and gives him a card with the phone number for a federal office responsible for prosecuting war crimes. He also gives White the pen with the incriminating recording he'd used as leverage against her. After Frazier leaves, the mayor looks over the card, wondering what kind of problems White has gotten him into.
Frazier arrives home in the evening. Walking past Sylvia's brother, who sleeps on a sofa in the living room, he goes into the bedroom where he is greeted by Sylvia. As he stores away his gun and shield, and his acknowledgement plaque for his promotion to First Grade, he realizes there is a small object in his suitcoat pocket. Reaching inside, he is stunned to find a small but beautifully cut diamond. He smiles to himself in amusement as he recalls his conversations with Dalton, and realizes that Dalton was the man who bumped into him at the bank entrance... just as Dalton said he would, he walked right out the door when he was 'good and ready.' Moreover, as a sign of respect, he slipped the diamond to Frazier, so that the detective could now get a proper engagement ring made and propose to Sylvia.
The movie closes with Sylvia calling Frazier to come to bed so they can make love.