I don't know if Inside Job, the debut short from Matt Nagin, will do much for America's image in the world (it just won First Place in competition at the
Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes), but it is a dynamic showcase for this up-and-coming actor, director and writer.
The film is basically "The Wolf of Wall Street" cut to 38 minutes and on crack. A crooked, drug-addled boss (Mr. G., played by Mr. Nagin) runs BTC Getaways, a boiler-room operation selling vacation packages. The women are all sex-addicted bimbos and/or hookers, the men whiny sycophants.
The plot revolves around Josh (Chris Cook), a new hire, and his initiation into the firm. Is the abuse he must take just good-hearted hazing? Or something more? Through some surprising twists during the last five minutes, the boss is overthrown and we find out what an "inside job" and an "inside job inside an inside job" is. We also find out why the characters are named Don, Colin, Connie, Dick and "G" for George.
Until we get there, the film veers from character-based comedy to conspiracy-mumbler to workplace horror. Good direction and production values (including authentic Wall Street locations) keep us interested.
As a director, Nagin has good comic timing and an eye for set-ups. Kudos to the technical team who delivers first rate lighting, sound, and special effects for an indie.
As an actor, Mr. Nagin has a strong natural presence and comedic chops; he prances, protests, punishes, and pivots from insincerity to sincerity (as befits a Wall Street wack job) on a dime.
Inside Job's supporting cast, however, are under-written and don't provide Mr. Nagin's villain with any worthy challenges. Samantha Algieri (Ashley the dumb hooker) and Bob Bell (Colin the psychotic janitor) stand out because their characters are obvious types. I would have liked to see Harold Tarr (Dick), Inga Lepps (Connie), Craig Watson (Don), and the other employees (Julie Kanan, Sunny Chen, Frank Vignola, Michael Leifman, and Melissa Joyce) do more than just lick their lips or shake their heads in disbelief. Even Mr. Cook (Josh) gets a bit tiring and one-note before the plot twists into action at the end.
The audiences at Cannes probably cringed at the way Inside Job skewered American values (or lack thereof.) With more emphasis on the underdog employees (rather than the psycho boss), I think they would have been cheering.