Movie Review: TAKERS (2010)
I’ve wanted to watch this for a long time now. The ensemble cast had me intrigued since its release. It’s a fun enough approach that I actually liked the movie, despite its many many flaws. Here’s my movie review of TAKERS…
Blank Page Grade: C –
TAKERS is about a group of professional robbers, who always get away, due to a meticulous set of rules and a diligent work ethic. Yes, criminals can have work ethics too. What makes this group different from other robbers and heist films is that they are sophisticated and professional about their entire operation, something that gets put in jeopardy through the course of the movie. So, I guess it’s not that different from other heist films at al. My bad. Nonetheless, they don’t look or act like criminals. They are so well oiled, that they talk more like a group of lawyers, when deciding where to invest their ‘takings’ (get it)? This is further punctuated as we see them launder their earnings through a legitimate and professional financial broker. The most adequate way to describe these guys would be with the wise phrase ‘too legit to quit’.
The movie focuses on this group, fresh off of an initially action packed and successful robbery that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Complications arise when a former colleague and friend, returns to their doorstep with a lucrative offer. But with years of mistrust and bad blood between them, the offer seems suspicious, threatening to make the group deviate from their established rules. But, as these movies often go, the lure of the ‘payout’ is too much for them to ignore, despite the risks. Also because, well, we wouldn’t have a movie otherwise.
It’s a fast paced, action entertainer that should be treated just as that, entertainment. There’s not a whole lot of genius on screen here, neither in story nor performance. But everyone plays their roles to satisfaction. TAKERS works, as a whole, solely due to the chemistry between the actors and their characters, or mabe I just thought so ‘cuz I like things with an ensemble cast. It’s full of typical heist movie formulas and unnecessary sub plots as an attempt to humanize the characters, but they end up going nowhere.
Leading the pack is the Idris Elba (THE LOSERS), who is the somber and serious veteran of the group. Paul Walker (FAST AND FURIOUS franchise) is his right hand man as the quiet and restraint point man. It’s a performance not beyond Walker’s already established acting abilities. Hayden Christiansen, better known as Anakin from the STAR WARS Prequels, is a tattooed musician, and probably the best of the group, given how different this is from what we’re used to seeing him in. He actually gets some significance in the movie as well, with a solo fight sequence where he figuratively and cinematically kicks ass. Add into the mix two brothers, one with serious Parkour skills and also the rapper T.I. as the antagonist, and TAKERS is a pretty good watch. (I didn’t spoil anything. You know T.I.’s character is off from the minute he comes on screen.)
The story revolves around the resurgence of their long lost comrade, played by T.I., who returns with a plan for them. Obviously chaos ensues, as no one is sure if they should trust T.I. or not. The rest unfolds like a typical ‘heist gone wrong’ scenario with some ballsy elements, but over all formulaic approach.
The stand out performance here has to be T.I. His creepy and double meaning tone constantly keep the audience suspicious of his motives. We want to like the guy, he seems cool, but at the same time… a dick. I haven’t seen much of T.I., even in real life interviews or anywhere else, to know if he’s an amazing actor, or if the role was written for how he is in real life. Regardless, it’s a unique swagger that adds to the role and story very nicely.
But despite the crazy fun times at a club with a bunch of robbers, TAKERS has a lot of problems as well. Matt Dillon (CRASH) plays the cop on the heels of this group of baddies, getting just a little too involved, as these kinds of cops tend to get. Dillon’s character is completely wasted, despite being given an interesting backstory. We’re shown how obsessed he is with his job, to the point of tailing a suspect with his young daughter in the car during daddy-daughter time. The guy obviously has problems and is too into his job, but at the end of it, this doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing is resolved for him. He doesn’t catch the bad guys. He doesn’t sort out his priorities and become a better dad. He’s just left there. There’s also another sub plot with his partner, which again, adds nothing to the story or character in any way whatsoever.
There was an opportunity for some banter between Dillon and Walker & Elba near the climax, during the final confrontation, but even that opportunity is squandered. The two brothers, whose names I can’t be bothered to learn, essentially go out with a bang, completely unnecessarily. When confronted, they don’t even attempt to escape, even though one of the brothers spent an entire 10 minute Parkour chase scene earlier on, that ends with him killing a cop, while trying to get away. Yet minutes later, he accepts his fate and walks out to meet the entire Precinct with guns a-blazing out of brotherly love? Come on!
Despite the entertaining first half, which essentially is the set up of the characters, the rest of the movie plays out very predictably and ends with a whimper. Probably the most unresolved ending that I can remember in recent times. TAKERS is a watch for anyone wanting to see different shades from the varied ensemble cast, which is pretty impressive, especially T.I. & Hayden Christensen. Unfortunately, that alone is not enough for TAKERS to be any better than typical action fluff.