Wittier than The Italian Job (either of 'em), more cynical than Ocean's Eleven (either of 'em--or Twelve), right up there with Rififi (for cleverness) and Big Deal on Madonna Street (for good humor) and Bob le Flambeur (for existential import) and The Killing (for clinical precision).
Denzel Washington and Clive Owen clash entertainingly--Owen's dispassion steadily inflames Washington's smoldering calm. (Jodie Foster is a throwaway character, inessential and ineffectual next to giants.) So much humor and tension in a claustrophobic New York street: Spike Lee directing his own Phone Booth? Nifty narrative structure and a few plot twists make the pacing--which is at times slow, but never uninteresting--perfect.
For its realistic and sympathetic treatment of race and sin in the post 9/11 New York microcosm, this is the Crash of heist flicks, and yet it's never preachy and contrived like Crash. (The music is better, too.)
It's the first truly good film I've seen this year.
Go thou and watch.
(Incidentally, Rififi, in the way of all heist films, is being remade. With Al Pacino!)
Update: Oh yeah, the heavy Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 debt. Scott Tobias remembers what I forgot.