September 6, 2010
Review - " Takers " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: John Luessenhop
Starring: Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Jay Hernandez, Hayden
Christensen, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Michael Ealy, Chris Brown, Marianne
Jean-Baptiste, Steve Harris, Johnathon Schaech.
A crackling crime drama assembled from a scrap heap of clichés,
“Takers” proves that everything old can sometimes really be new
Everything in this stylish, exciting movie has been borrowed from
other pictures, from the suave, resourceful bank robbers who execute
perfect crimes to the pair of dogged police officers hell-bent on
But the familiarity of the material is overcome by stylish, unobtrusive
direction by John Luessenhop, who keeps the visuals vibrant and
flashy without resorting to assaultive overkill, and an eclectic
ensemble cast of actors you never imagined would ever appear in
the same movie.
Cribbing heavily from Michael Mann’s crime epic “Heat” (note the
elaborate sequence involving the heist of an armored car), “Takers”
makes the bad guys as engaging and charismatic as the heroes, so
even though they are nonviolent criminals who occasionally and
reluctantly must kill, you don’t necessarily want to see them get
These five slick thieves (Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen,
Michael Ealy and Chris Brown) dress like GQ models, read the
Bloomberg Report, live in swanky penthouse apartments and relax in swimming pools pre-populated by bikini-clad babes.
They are also meticulous about planning their ingenious crimes - when they rob a bank, they use a TV news chopper as their
getaway vehicle - which makes life a lot harder for LAPD detectives Jack (Matt Dillon) and Eddie (Jay Hernandez), assigned
to apprehend crooks who never leave so much as a fingerprint behind. The cops don’t even know the gang members’ names
or what they look like.
The wrench in the posse’s well-laid plans comes in the form of Ghost (Tip “T.I.” Harris), a former member of the group who
served four years in prison without ratting on his cronies.
Ghost feels he’s owed some payback for his loyalty, and he also has a detailed plan for robbing an armored car that would
bring a $30-million haul. Although Ghost is a bit of a loose cannon, and his trustworthiness is questionable (he also likes to
quote Genghis Khan, which should always be a reason for pause), the gang’s leader Gordon (Elba) looks over the scheme
and decides to go for it.
Despite much of the movie’s predictability (the just-sprung felon with questionable motives, the workaholic cop being
investigated by internal affairs, meetings with Russian mobsters that result in violence), the film feels fresh and invigorating.
There are some expertly orchestrated action
set pieces, such as a great, long foot chase
between Michael Ealy and Dillon (the movie’s
equivalent of an extended car chase) or a
hotel-suite shootout, with characters blasting
away at each other in tight quarters, that
outguns the climactic standoff in “True
And the plot does manage to come up with a
couple of curve balls, most notably the ending,
which you won’t guess is coming no matter
how many crime pictures you’ve seen.
“Takers” doesn’t break any new ground and is
far from essential, but it goes down smooth
and easy — a tall, refreshing, ice-cool chaser
to a long, mostly dry summer movie season.