In the 1970s, a true story inspired a crime drama about an undercover police officer who infiltrates a group of mobsters. The movie was first released in the US as The Gemini Lounge, but for some reason, it has been renamed Inside Man in the UK. However, it should not be mistaken for the 2006 heist film directed by Spike Lee or the recent Netflix series starring David Tennant. While it shares the same title as these well-made movies, there is a distinct similarity to Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas that borders on obsessive fandom. Although it is not a remake and features different characters and plot, the movie imitates the rhythms, language, visuals, and overall tone of GoodFellas in a cheap and inferior manner.
This movie covers everything from the environment of powerful mafia members driving large, gas-guzzling cars from the 1970s and participating in illegal activities, to its use of paused shots and narration by Emile Hirsch as the main character. Hirsch’s voice is so similar to Ray Liotta’s in GoodFellas that it feels like they are only a few notes apart. The main difference, besides the fact that director Danny A Abeckaser is not Scorsese, is that the film was made on a very small budget and takes place in only a few locations. There was clearly not enough money to include a Bay City Rollers or Rolling Stones song in the soundtrack. Furthermore, the dialogue lacks the musicality and confidence of GoodFellas, as well as its attention to detail and cleverness.
However, this movie is not completely unwatchable. Actor Hirsch, who is currently appearing in many low budget films, delivers a strong performance as Bobby Belucci, a detective with the NYPD. After he attacks a man he catches kissing his wife, Bobby is demoted to a desk job. In an act of desperation, he then beats up a man in a public restroom. This act leads him to local drug dealer Chris (Jake Cannavale), who was also involved in the fight. Seeing an opportunity to infiltrate the Gambino crime family, which Chris is a part of, Bobby convinces his police chief (Bo Dietl) to support him as he goes undercover and becomes part of the crew. However, as he becomes more involved in their criminal activities, Bobby finds himself committing heinous crimes similar to the ones he’s supposed to be stopping.
It is evident that Abeckaser is infatuated with his cast. He presents a platform here for a variety of talented character actors, each of them exaggerating their outer borough accents and having a good time. The story is mostly dominated by male characters, but Lucy Hale stands out as a bartender at the lounge where everyone gathers, and she has a fondness for Bobby. However, in the end, this film seems to imitate a better quality product, similar to something these individuals would peddle out of their car trunk.