Theatrical Review: TAKERS
Director: John Luessenhop
Writers: Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus, John Luessenho, Avery Duff
Cast: Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon, Michael Ealy, T.I, Paul Walker
Studio: Screen Gems
“Man, that movie was great! It had everything!” Normally, when you hear this as a moviegoer, your heart should start pumping a little and you should be anxious to get to the theatre so you can fork over your hard-earned money for a movie that generated such a positive 8 word review from your buddy. Sadly, this is not the case for TAKERS. This movie does have everything. It has everything from every other heist and cop drama movie that you’ve ever seen before. And it’s not because it’s paying homage to the great cop dramas and heist movies of the past. It straight up lifts plot points and screenplay elements out of them, ultimately creating a very lackluster paint-by-numbers script of sequences and dialogue that leave you bored and wishing you had rented this instead.
The movie opens up with a bank heist. The group of thieves (or “takers,” as they prefer to be called) meet up in a building, plain-clothed, and then head off to a secluded construction level conveniently free of surveillance cameras. A little explosion to create a diversion, head into the bank yelling and screaming “Get on the floor!” and “Nobody move!” with one member rattling seconds off a clock the rest are working against, and eventually a couple million dollars are stolen and the takers are long gone. Introduce investigating detectives Jack Welles (played by Matt Dillon) and Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez) while the takers are out celebrating their, well, their take.
The takers are played by Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, and Chris Brown. As with any group of master thieves there is the leader (Elba), the good-looking right hand man who lacks a specialty, but is obviously good for some specific reason (Walker), the “wildcard”/explosives expert (Christensen, believe it or not), a computer guy (Brown), and someone who just didn’t have a specialty at all (Ealy), but has a hot girlfriend (Zoe Saldana). In the middle of celebrating their latest job, they come across old partner and recent parolee Ghost (T.I.), who has a high risk/high reward job for his old crew. Reluctantly, they accept and the movie goes on from there.
Obviously, the biggest problem with TAKERS is how riddled it is with clichés. The only two things this movie didn’t have in it were a cop with X number of days until retirement, and another cop saying “I’m too old for this shit.” Even Matt Dillon’s portrayal of a cop appears to be of a stand-up police officer, but lo and behold here comes Internal Affairs to butt their nose in his business while he’s on top of a really big case. His partner is also a stand-up guy, but down on his luck with a wife who just got laid off, a kid going through dialysis treatments, and general trouble making ends meet.
Character development is the second biggest problem. It’s one thing for a movie to not try very hard with weak dialogue, but the two cops are the only ones that go through any sort of character development. There is a woman that Elba’s character visits in rehab that he’s obviously very close to. Is it his girlfriend, wife, sister, or just a friend? You don’t find out until a very long way into the movie and it comes in the form of a throwaway line that if you don’t pay attention to, you’ll miss entirely. TAKERS was written by four people - Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus, John Luessenhop, and Avery Duff, three of which, according to IMDB, have never written another movie before (Casseus, Luessenhop, and Duff). Take that as you will.
There are a few sequences in TAKERS that are interesting, and the execution of the action wasn’t terrible at all, but the negatives severely outweigh the positives. The weak script and anemic character development are the film’s biggest problems. Unfortunately, those are problems that it’s never able to cover up with loud explosions and gunfire. It’s hard to believe this was written by four people, especially since some of the time you can predict some of the dialogue and scenes as they are about to happen (that is, if you’ve seen enough heist, cop, and action movies). Don’t get TAKEN in by this movie, it will only leave you with a lighter wallet and a longing for the higher quality films of this type from the past.
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