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Film review: Tower Heist

Updated on March 25, 2012

Film work details

Title: Tower Heist

Produced by: Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Relativity Media, Rat Entertainment

Directed by: Brett Ratner

Written by: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson

Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Téa Leoni, Alan Alda, Michael Peña, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch

Official synopsis

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead an all-star cast in this hilarious comedy caper about a luxury condo manager (Stiller) who leads a staff of workers to seek payback on the Wall Street swindler (Alan Alda) who defrauded them. With only days until the billionaire gets away with the perfect crime, the unlikely crew of amateur thieves enlists the help of petty crook Slide (Murphy) to steal the $20 million they’re sure is hidden in the penthouse.


Genre: action, comedy

(Age) rating: PG-13 Content advisory: contains mildly intense adult situations and some adult language

Reviewer rating: 4 Popcorns out of a possible 5

Reviewer summary

Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) works as manager of The Tower, a luxury residential apartment complex in NY City. Although Kovacs is a serious professional who performs his job in complete accordance to the rules, underneath his smooth exterior he has a big heart and is well liked by the staff. The tenants seem to trust Kovacs, especially financier Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). One day the complex security system alerts the staff to what appears to be people kidnapping Shaw. As Kovacs attempts to thwart the kidnappers he is blocked by FBI agents. They later inform him that it was not a real attempted kidnapping but a farce staged by Shaw himself in the attempt to avoid prosecution for felonious mishandling of funds. Among the charges brought against Shaw is the accusation that he's used the pensions of The Tower staff in a Ponzi scheme. Kovacs is particularly uncomfortable with this as he had, unwittingly, given Shaw legal authority over control of the staffs' financial interests. When the well-loved door man attempts to commit suicide Kovacs becomes angry. He confronts Shaw, who has been put on house arrest until his trial. During this incident Kovacs realizes how corrupt Shaw truly is. He loses his temper altogether at Shaw's snide attitude and in doing so also loses his job at The Tower.

Kovacs now decides to get justice for the people who had depended on him. His vision is to take from Shaw the pension money he has so far kept hidden from FBI investigators. With the help of two other former complex employees Kovacs devises a plan to get into the penthouse apartment where they believe Shaw has stashed the pension money. However, they realize they can't pull off the heist alone and recruit the help of a former and bankrupted tenant, a criminal from Kovacs home neighborhood (Eddie Murphy) and one of the disgruntled maids from the complex. As they prepare for the robbery Kovacs and his unlikely team get help from another unlikely source – the FBI agent (Téa Leoni) who is both repulsed by Shaw and smitten by Kovacs. But nothing prepares any of them for the shock of a lifetime awaiting in Shaw's penthouse.

Reviewer comments

The plot of Tower Heist was clearly inspired by recent criminal shennanigans committed by very real Wall Street investors. Alan Alda (not usually one of my favorite actors) gives a sterling performance as the Bernie Madoff-like Shaw. His character is charming, sophisticated, intellectual and totally lacks any compunction about the pain he's inflicted on his victims. In Shaw's view they are all his class inferiors and by that inferiority deserving to be taken advantage of. Ben Stiller gives a likewise mature performance as a modern-day Robin Hood, and his comedic talents are not lost in the darkness of the story. I admit that I had some doubt about watching Tower Heist to begin with due to the casting of Eddie Murphy in a feature role. Over the last several years Murphy has concentrated on making a string of dopey family movies, his last decent film for adult audiences having been Bowfinger in 1999. I expected more of the same here, but thankfully, my reservations were not validated. Murphy’s portrayal of a self-concerned thug is sharp and his deliverance of witty dialog never once comes off as scene-stealing.

Aside from the nicely novel premise, there are two things that really stand out about Tower Heist and which deserve mentioning. The first is the originality of all the characters. They are quirky and attractively devoid of the plastic that runs rampant in chic-conscious crime films like the Ocean's films and many action flicks made by the Coen brothers. Secondly, this movie has none of the unbelievable (and ridiculous) doses of special effects that saturate practically all contemporary action films. The thrills and danger in Tower Heist here are things that could very possibly happen to anyone attempting an adventurous heist in the real world. For this, the capers are simply much more fun to watch.

If I have one criticism of this film it is with the last few minutes. It is an abrupt and rather choppy ending to such an intriguing story, as if the editor(s) had no concern for audience satisfaction. There was closure, yes, but as a viewer I was disappointed in not having clear insight on the fate of all the major players.

Final Verdict

Tower Heist is an action crime film that treats the subject matter with a respectful blend of dark comedy and social commentary. The plot is clever, the dialog is witty, the characters are quirky and even with the problematic ending, I came away from it feeling quite entertained. This is one movie I’m sure to watch again and won’t be disappointed if there is a sequel!

Reviewer rating – Four popcorns

Visit the Tower Heist official website


Submit a Comment

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

    Aww :)

  • profile image

    femmeflashpoint 6 years ago


    The Muscle Next Door are four boys, whom I've known since the two eldest were in diapers, lol.

    The three younger ones are part of my cycle pack, Jared, Lukas and Andrew. The eldest is Seth, who's 21. They end up in my "femme's desk" blog frequently, because we're frequently hanging out together, and the younger three are all over the place in our "trail challenges" blog. They've finally gotten over being camera shy, lol.

    When they're not cycling with me, or brainstorming on the patio with me, they're usually helping me fix something that I need extra muscle for. :)


  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

    Femme, thanks much :) "The Muscle Next Door"..ooh, that sounds intriguing!

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

    Dexter, how sweet, thank you :)

  • profile image

    femmeflashpoint 6 years ago


    Excellent review!! Voted up and I'll pass it on!

    The Muscle Next Door will likely love this one. :)


  • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

    Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

    Hi Beth! Thanks for the review. I will check it out. I hadn't before because it seemed silly. But I trust YOUR opinion. Thanks!

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

    Hi Nell! Murphy definitely got out from under the Mickey Mouse ears on this one; I think you'll like it. Thanks much for reading and voting up, too :)

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

    hoteltravei, I believe the DVD has been released but you can probably find out for sure at the film website. Thanks so much for reading and the VU :)

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

    Hi, Tower Heist sounds like the type of film that I will definitely go and see, Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy together? sounds good to me. I know what you mean about Eddies films over the last few years, but saying that they were funny, so it will be good to see him do a serious role for a change, great review! up and voted!

  • hoteltravel profile image

    hoteltravel 6 years ago from Thailand

    The story sounds promising. And, no doubt, Ben Stiller will shine in a Night at the Museum sort of role, in which he has to look serious, comical, innocent and much more at the same time. I completely agree with you on Eddie Murphy. I am sick of watching his movies. Glad to know that he won't ruin this one with his presence. From what you have written here, it looks perfect for watching on TV. May be I will wait for the release of DVD or until it is shown on TV. Thanks for the review. Voted up.


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