Blu-ray Review: Tower Heist

Tower Heist Blu-raySTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner | CAST: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Peña, Judd Hirsch, Tea Leoni, Stephen Henderson
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 2/21/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $34.98
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted and alternate scenes including two alternate endings, gag reel
SPECS: PG-13 | 105 min. | Action comedy | 2.39:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

A populist Hollywood crime caper if ever there was one, Brett Ratner’s (Red Dragon) comedy-action film Tower Heist zeroes in on a bunch of hardworking New Yorkers who plot to rob a Bernie Madoff-like Wall Street exec of millions after they discover he cashed in on their retirement funds and hid the money in his luxurious Central Park West penthouse apartment.

Tower HeistThe would-be thieves plotting to steal back the money the exec (Alan Alda, Behind the Burly Q) stole are mostly the highrise’s employees: the building manager (Ben Stiller, Little Fockers), a concierge (Casey Affleck, The Killer Inside Me), a maid (Gabourey Sidibe, TV’s The Big C) and a new bellhop (Michael Peña, Everything Must Go). Also on board for the heist are a broke former Wall Streeter (Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and a fast-talking, small-time thief (Eddie Murphy, 48 Hrs.) who the “gang” recruits to show them the ropes.

It’s not until nearly the half-way point — after the exec’s crimes are revealed and all characters (leading and supporting, including Tea Leoni, who has one stand-out scene as a NYC detective) have been introduced — that Tower Heist shifts into its titular crime mode. The movie’s laughs are scattered up until that point, but they pick up considerably in the second half, as does the action and outrageousness quotient, led by all manner of stuntwork involving a bright red 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso that was once owned by Steve McQueen. The car is a gorgeous piece of eye candy (almost as stunning as model Kate Upton in a quick walk-on) that figures greatly into the story and is given a lot of action-filled screen time, most of it transpiring 300-feet above the ground.

Elements of Tower Heist have a 1980s and 1990s throwback feel, particularly Murphy as a street-wise hustler, Broderick as a (formerly) snobby rich kid and the over-the-top action pieces a la director Ratner’s own Rush Hour films. It’s invigorating enough, as are the nuts and bolts of the heist itself, but it all kept on reminding me of other star-filled caper films (like Steve Sodergergh’s Out of Sight and Ocean’s 11 films) where trickery and stealth were employed to better effect than this movie’s auto hijinks and crank-it-up sound effects. And I could have used some more laughs.

Speaking of which, the Blu-ray’s audio quality is top-notch, particularly when it comes to all car-crashing, glass-breaking and wall-smashing that goes down in the final third. Thankfully, the dialog clearly stands out from the wall of sound.

The high-definition video quality is also outstanding, with the central luxury building locale and its surrounding Manhattan landscapes looking wonderfully textured and alive.

Ratner himself is all over the Blu-ray’s bonus features, starting with a commentary that also includes editor Mark Helfrich and co-writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson. Though the spirited track finds the gentlemen sharing more laughs than production information, it’ll do for this film.

The director can also be seen and heard in a fun 23-minute video diary that contains lots of behind-the-scenes material and raw footage, as well as an extended making-of featurette.

Also included are a pair of alternate endings, one of which is pretty clever, and nine deleted and alternate scenes that definitely warrant their slot in the supplemental section and not the movie proper.


Buy or Rent Tower Heist
Amazon graphic
DVD | Blu-ray/DVD Combo
DVD Empire graphicDVD | Blu-ray/DVD Combo Movies Unlimited graphicDVD | Blu-ray/DVD Combo Netflix graphic

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.