Inside Man review: Moral quandary overcome by pure farce

Netflix’s Inside Man follows a death row prisoner trying to solve the mystery of a missing woman who falls victim to a misunderstanding and a Vicar’s extreme measures to contend with said misunderstandings.

Story

Jefferson Grieff is a U.S. death row prisoner with an immense talent for cracking unsolvable cases, thanks to his knowledge of Criminology acquired over a long time.

Beth Davenport is a journalist who has taken interest in Grieff and visits him to interview him on what he does and how he does it.

Not too long ago, Beth was saved from a harasser on a train by a clever woman named Janice. After Grieff sends Beth back without an interview, because he says it doesn’t have moral worth, she returns to him with a case.

Janice was recently picked up by vicar Harry Watling for his son, Ben’s maths tuition. Harry had recently agreed to hide his verger’s porn flash drive and brought it home.

Janice ends up using the drive and happens upon the harrowing contents in it — child pornography.

While Ben tries to cover for his father’s porn drive facetiously, obviously not knowing that there’s child porn in it, Janice misunderstands the situation and believes him.

When Harry learns of the contents inside, he tries to quell the misunderstandings but does a poor job of it, as he wants to save the verger Edgar at the church, and also his son.

As Janice tries to set out for home, Harry insists she clears her misunderstandings first. However, Harry’s incompetent efforts and now increasing desperation to stop Janice from obviously going to the police turn grim soon.

Even though he doesn’t intend any of it, Janice is hurt several times in the struggle to get out of the house, while Harry keeps stopping her.

One thing leads to another, and Janice ends up inside his basement, bloodied and horribly injured. Soon, Harry’s wife Mary learns of the horrific situation as well.

Meanwhile, Beth takes the indecipherable picture of Janice’s struggle with Harry to Grieff. It was odd and suspicious enough for her to know that she might be in trouble.

Grieff commences his investigations and through his surprisingly immense reach and resources, he directs Beth to Janice’s place and eventually, to the Vicar’s house.

Harry and Mary keep making bad decisions as their situation gets more complicated after Edgar commits suicide. Janice tries to use cunning ways to escape her dire situation but to little avail.

While Ben catches on to it all and meets Janice in the basement, Harry takes the last extreme measure to sort the mess.

Mary heads out to do her own part, tying loose ends and getting rid of implicating evidence, only to die an abrupt and tragic death.

As Harry learns of his son’s location, Ben hits Janice due to his disorientation, injuring her very close to death.

Harry goes to deal the last blow but by that time, Beth and some other help have arrived at the basement, stopping Harry in the tracks and saving Janice.

Performances

With a stacked cast of talent like this, it’s nearly impossible to have a miss in the acting department.

Performances from Stanley Tucci, David Tennant, and others are undoubtedly one of the biggest strengths of Inside Man.

Positives

It’s gripping material for sure, especially at the beginning of the series, as characters make horrendously poor decisions and devolve far and further into insanity.

Grieff and Dillon certainly make for some of the more fun elements, even though the fact that the moral of Inside Man is kind of authored by these two horrible murderers is hilariously odd.

Harry does receive what he deserves, though, and the series is to be praised to end his arc where it does. It’s not simply bad decisions that he’s sinful of, but covering up a paedophile too.

No matter what circumstances surround Edgar’s proclivity for depravity, it’s not just Harry’s moral duty but also a social and legal obligation to turn to the police right away.

Although death is not what Mary deserved, she did deserve something akin to Harry’s share of punishment that he now shoulders alone, and deservedly so.

Negatives

What’s the moral here? Grieff says, more than once, that everyone is a murderer, they’re merely one good reason and a bad day away from murdering someone.

Is “everyone is capable of morally reprehensible acts” it? Or is it that sometimes the only way out of a dire circumstance is murder?

Harry neither has a “good reason” nor a “bad day” to do what he did. The day only got worse and worse and then worst because he made it so, with his utter stupidity.

What Harry has is a faulty moral compass and a penchant for poor decision-making. “Play stupid games, win trauma, suffering, and death” can’t be it, but it is rather befitting of a moral here.

Instead of a more meditative and serious treatment of morality and ethics, Inside Man does away with the harder questions and instead leans on the thriller aspects that eventually almost devolve into comedy.

Verdict

Inside Man works better as a dark comedy, should that have been the makers’ intention for it. Instead, it’s a huge miss and mostly an attempt at ruining its own serious and gripping tone with a farcical turn of events and genre.

Inside Man
Inside Man review: Moral quandary overcome by pure farce 1

Director: Steven Moffat

Date Created: 2022-10-31 12:30

Editor's Rating:
2

Also Read: Inside Man ending explained: Does Janice survive?