Surveillance, Security, and Neo-noir Film: Spike Lee’s ‘Inside Man’ As a 9/11 Counter-narrative


  • Antoni Castells-Talens Facultat Blanquerna - Universitat Ramon Llull



surveillance, neo-noir, Spike Lee, film, post-9/11


After the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, a patriotic narrative permeated all aspects of US society. Planned and executed by the George W. Bush administration and reproduced by the media and by other social institutions, the narrative of the War on Terror permeated all aspects of society with little opposition. A few weeks after the attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, a bill that redefined security and surveillance in the United States. The new act contributed to the erosion of civil rights. This article analyzes how Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006), a film that critics interpreted as a commercial thriller when it was launched, employs resources from film noir and neo-noir to construct a counter-narrative on security and surveillance. Through a plot that causes confusion, a distinct visual style, a typically noir role of the hero, and hidden references to a 9/11 theme, the film borrows elements from classical film noir and from eighties neo-noir to take a firm stand against the US response to the terrorist attacks. The movie removes the mask of the dominant narrative by showing a structurally corrupt system.


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How to Cite

Castells-Talens, A. (2022). Surveillance, Security, and Neo-noir Film: Spike Lee’s ‘Inside Man’ As a 9/11 Counter-narrative. Tripodos, (51), 109–128.

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