Screen Rant’s Sandy Schaefer reviews Takers
Have you ever known a suit-wearing hipster that enjoys boasting loudly about how totally awesome he is and imagines himself to be a trendsetter – when really, there is absolutely nothing original about the way he dresses or how he talks? If that guy were a movie, he would be Takers.
Every cliché plot element, stock character, and bit of visual flair that has ever reared its overused head in an action movie or heist film shows up in Takers, with one exception – no one in the movie gets to throw their head back in despair and scream “NO!” Honestly, it’s kind of disappointing that director John Luessenhop did not go for the gusto and include that one as well.
Savvy criminals are always the main characters in a heist movie and Takers is no exception. The crew of skilled thieves includes jazz piano player A.J. (played by Hayden Christensen); gentlemanly Jake (Michael Ealy) and his ex-convict brother, Jesse (Chris Brown); the professional type, John (Paul Walker); and the leader of the group – with a spiffy accent to boot – Gordon (Idris Elba).
The gang pulls off yet another profitable job (the plan for which apparently involved commandeering a news chopper) around the same time one of their former comrades, Ghost (rapper T.I.) gets out of prison early for good behavior. He approaches the group with the promise of a very profitable job involving the takedown of an armored van, with less than a week’s time to prepare – despite the fact that they always wait at least a year before attempting another high-stakes job.
Gordon and his fellow bank robbers are immediately wary of Ghost’s proposal – and not only because 1) Ghost spent several years in jail after one of their jobs went wrong, and 2) His old girlfriend, Rachel (Zoe Saldana, wasted in a role that has her onscreen for maybe 3-5 minutes total) recently became engaged to Jake. For reasons that are never fully explained (greed, I suppose), the Takers decides to do the job anyway.
Meanwhile, police detective Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) leads an investigation to find the group and bring them to justice. He is your stereotypical movie cop (workaholic, personal life is a mess, etc.), except that, oddly enough, he is not actually that good at his job. Jack is also a definite contender for the Worst Parent of the Year Award – especially after he pursues the Takers in his car WITH HIS PRE-TEEN DAUGHTER RIDING SHOTGUN and almost gets the both of them killed.
The Taker’s plans predictably go awry, which results in a lot of explosions, gun fights, and an on-foot chase sequence that involves Chris Brown’s character, Jesse – who apparently has the athletic abilities of Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and a professional sprinter all rolled into one. [SPOILER AHEAD] He is also cornered and killed at the end of the film, going out in a blaze of glory that feels like a rip-off of the ending of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid [END SPOILER]. Shockingly, the end credits reveal that Chris Brown was one of the producers of Takers as well.
Takers in general is simply a lifeless affair – the characters are one-dimensional and lacking in the areas of emotional depth and charisma; every twist and turn in the plot can be spotted from a mile away; and it is legitimately not clear what the movie was even about, in the end – something about “crime doesn’t (always) pay,” perhaps.
These matters aren’t helped by the fact that the film’s director of photography, Michael Barrett, decided to go with a District 9 aesthetic. Viewers prone to feeling woozy when they watch movies with a lot of messy, hand-held camerawork should beware since Takers is a poorly done example of that mode of filmmaking – not to mention the fact that the editor seemingly suffered from a severe case of ADD (and in the age of the Transformers and Jason Bourne movies, that is saying something).
Takers wants to be the kind of crime drama that Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies) would make and it shows. The film is shot like a gritty actioner and the cast members spend a good portion of their time onscreen trying to look cool – all while pounding hip-hop music blares on over nearly every scene. Ultimately, the movie tries so hard to be slick and stylish that it becomes flat-out annoying.
Those that are really in the mood to see a good heist movie that involves men strutting around in expensive suits – not to mention lots of gunfire and explosive set pieces – should pass on Takers and just go see Inception again instead. It might even be playing at the local dollar theater now.