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Is Inside Man a True Story?

May 31, 2020
3 min read

Heist dramas have always been popular with the audience. Be it the Ocean’s series or the Spanish hit, ‘Money Heist’, the audience has always been enticed with the stories about brainy, savvy, and witty people who, despite being criminals, are not the bad guys in the story. Spike Lee’s ‘Inside Man’, too, plays with this idea of crime and morality. It morphs several ethical and racial issues inside a brilliant heist, which makes you wonder, can someone pull off something like this in real life? Is ‘Inside Man’ based on a true story? Here’s the answer.

Is Inside Man Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Inside Man’ is not based on a true story. Directed by Spike Lee, it is based on an original script by Russell Gewirtz, who had spent a lot of time studying the screenplays of previous heist films to develop the story of his own. Initially, Ron Howard was set to direct the movie, but he left it for ‘Cinderella Man’.

In another revision of the script, the Nazi angle and the diamond ring arc was added to the story. After bouncing around with a couple of directors, the film finally landed with Spike Lee, who wanted to turn it into a contemporary take on ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, one of his favorite movies. Actors Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Willem Dafoe met with the people serving in the New York City Police Department to learn about their experiences with hostage situations. The timeline of the film was also tinkered with to add more mystery to the suspicion regarding the true identity of the people being interrogated.

While the heist itself is not based on a real event, Lee used its premise to comment on racial issues in the country. In one scene, Dalton Russell talks with Brian Robinson, an 8-year-old boy, who is playing a violent video game. We see the 30-second animated sequence in the film where the player gets points for killing people. Through this scene, Lee wanted to comment on the influence of gangsta rap on African Americans, as well as the impact of violence in video games for kids.

While the game is imaginary, it was based around several video games that were popular at the time. Through the short scene, he wanted to focus on the mindset that was being sold to kids in the form of these games. After the film’s release, he also wondered if his intentions would be interpreted in another way. He worried that some people might use the idea to create a real video game like that.

Another scene that he used to focus on prevalent racism was the one where hostage Vikram Walia is let out of the bank, and the cops immediately assume him to be one of the robbers because he looks like an Arab. His turban is forcefully removed and is not given back despite his repeated demands. He also explains the difference between a Sikh and an Arab, and questions why he has to put up with such things even after being an upstanding citizen of the community.

Read More: Inside Man Ending, Explained

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