*(Via THR.com) – “Tower Heist” spins on a crackerjack premise that’s played for broad entertainment value, rather than real interest in the contemporary economic issues at its core. Brett Ratner’s comic caper about a bunch of co-workers who turn the tables on a Bernie Madoff type who has swindled them out of their pensions is snappy, well cast and streetwise in a well-upholstered New York sort of way, and it is peppered with smart-mouthed sass, much of it supplied by Eddie Murphy. This smoothly engineered crowd-pleaser should fulfill its function just fine through Thanksgiving and beyond.

A whole different film with the same plot and cast of characters could have been made that would have mined the raw grievances of people who have been cheated or otherwise lost their jobs or life savings in the wake of the money troubles of the past three years. It could still even have been a comedy. But Ratner and screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson use the financial mayhem as a plot trigger for an elaborate scheme that, however far-fetched, is all but irresistible in its criminal legitimacy and its promise for just desserts.

The opening shot is a stunner, a view straight down at Ben Franklin’s $100 face gracing the bottom of the swimming pool atop the Tower, Manhattan’s most expensive residential spire (played by Trump Tower Columbus Circle, formerly the Gulf + Western Building). Out of it emerges Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), the self-satisfied Tower owner and investment king known for the handsome returns he always delivers to his clientele.

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